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Aid agency chief: Guidelines on female NGO staff close to finalization

AT

Kabul: The head of a major international aid agency said Tuesday that key Afghan officials told him in meetings that they are close to finalizing guidelines that will allow Afghan women to resume working for nongovernmental organizations. But they were unable to give a timeline or details when pressed.

Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, is visiting Afghanistan for the second time in five months to persuade the country’s rulers to reverse the ban on the organization’s female staff.

Egeland met the Kandahar deputy governor, Maulvi Hayatullah Mubarak, who he described as having “direct contact with and links” to the Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, who ordered the education and NGO bans. He also met the head of Kandahar’s Economy Directorate, Mawlawi Abdul Salam Baryali.

“The authorities in Kandahar have a special position since the emir (Akhundzada) sits in Kandahar,” he told The Associated Press. “Whatever agreement we can get in Kandahar can have a national impact. These guidelines are close to being finalized and should soon be put into effect, that is what was conveyed.”

Egeland said he pressed the officials for a timeline and clarity on the word “soon” but they didn’t elaborate.

He was told the Taliban couldn’t guarantee anything as everything needed to be put to the supreme leadership. They also told him they had been working on the NGO matter for months and that most issues have been resolved.

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