UN in Afghanistan | Will United Nations Leave Afghanistan?

April 2023: UN had told the Associated Press that if the opposition of the Taliban does not accept the continuation of the work of UN Women, this organization is ready to make a difficult decision and leave the country.

Afghanistan and the United Nations

Afghanistan officially joined the United Nations on 19 November 1946 as the Kingdom of Afghanistan. In June 1945, the month after war had ended in Europe, representatives from 50 countries came together and drew up the UN Charter, which was signed on 26 June 1945. 

UN Activity Areas in Afghanistan Provinces

The photo below displays the number of activities per location in Afghanistan.

un offices in Afghanistan

UN 2023 Update

AFGHANISTAN: The UN is prepared to leave Afghanistan in May 2023 if it is unable to convince the Taliban to permit local women to work for the organisation. This comes after UN representatives spent months talking to the group’s leaders in the hope of making exceptions to a decree banning local women from working for it.

The organization’s development program said in a statement that it currently supports thousands of women-owned businesses, public service initiatives and small and medium-sized enterprises in Afghanistan.

The organization announced on Tuesday that the number of Afghans living in poverty has increased from 19 million in 2020 to 34 million in 2022.

The United Nations Development Program, referring to the reports of its recent foreign reports, states that economic aid has prevented the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy, and has called the continuation of this aid vital.

It called on women to immediately cancel the work of women at the United Nations and other decisions restricting the program against abolition.

Earlier, Achim Steiner, director of the United Nations Development Program, told the Associated Press that if the organization could not be convinced to continue the UN women staff, it was prepared to make a “heartbreaking” decision to leave the country in May.

The Taliban recently banned female staff from the United Nations.

Following this decision, the UN representative office in Afghanistan asked their male and female employees to appear in this organization.

Will the UN Pull Out of Afghanistan?

So many decisions are difficult in Afghanistan, but the choice the UN is now facing there may be the toughest yet.

Following the Taliban edict earlier this month barring local women from working for the global body, UN officials reportedly may be considering taking the “heartbreaking” decision to pull the UN out of the country.

The UN currently employs some 600 Afghan women, along with 2,700 Afghan men. All 3,300 have stayed home since April 12.

The UN mission in Afghanistan is conducting an “operational review” until May 5. The official line is that they are, planning for all possible outcomes.”

The UN’s dilemma is grim.

On the one hand, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a recent statement, the Taliban’s move to ban Afghan women from working with the UN is a “violation of the inalienable fundamental human rights of women.”

Guterres also emphasized how female staff members are essential for UN operations in the country, “including in the delivery of life-saving assistance.” 

Keeping the UN mission in Afghanistan and trying to work under such discriminatory rules that tie one hand behind your back would mean succumbing to the Taliban’s extremist ideology.

On the other hand, pulling out of Afghanistan would have grave consequences.

19.9 million people – that’s nearly half the population – face what the World Food Program calls “acute food insecurity.” 6 million face “emergency-level food insecurity.” Afghanistan is home to one of the world’s largest aid operations.

What would happen to people already on the edge of survival if the UN left? The Taliban’s restrictions on women have been impeding delivery of life-saving assistance, as HRW has noted since their takeover in 2021, but might things not get even worse?

The UN is not alone in confronting these decisions, of course. Aid agencies providing assistance have been hit hard by an earlier Taliban edict banning women from working at non-governmental organizations.

The UN and other humanitarian agencies are all facing terrible choices.

I don’t know what the UN will decide, but one thing is completely clear to me: responsibility for this awful situation rests with the Taliban and its repression of women.


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