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UN aid chief tries to lift the restriction on hiring Afghan women

The UN’s top aid official in Afghanistan is seeking to reverse a ban imposed on Afghan women working for the organization, which he says has caused a dramatic drop in female staffing.

Mark Bowden, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in the country, said the ban, imposed by the Afghan government in March, had caused a “significant drop” in female staff. He said he was trying to reverse the ban, and that he was in frequent contact with the Afghan government on the issue.

Bowden said the ban had had a “hugely detrimental” impact on the UN’s ability to deliver aid in the war-ravaged country. He said the majority of the UN’s staff in Afghanistan were women, and that the organization relied heavily on Afghan women to deliver its aid.

Bowden said the Afghan government had imposed the ban in response to a series of incidents in which female UN staff had been alleged to have been involved in activities deemed to be inappropriate. He said the UN was taking steps to address these concerns, but that the ban needed to be reversed as soon as possible.