Christian Aid on Monday became the fifth foreign aid group to suspend operations in Afghanistan after the country’s Taliban rulers ordered all NGOs to stop women staff from working.

The UK charity was “rapidly seeking clarity on this announcement and urging the authorities to reverse the ban”, head of global programmes Ray Hasan said in a statement.

“Whilst we do this, we are unfortunately pausing the work of our programmes,” he added.

The announcement came after a joint statement on Sunday from Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and Care.

The International Rescue Committee, which provides emergency response in health, education, and other areas and employs 3,000 women across Afghanistan, also said it was suspending services.

“Millions of people in Afghanistan are on the verge of starvation,” Hasan said.

“Reports that families are so desperate they have been forced to sell their children to buy food are utterly heartbreaking,” he said, adding that a ban on female aid workers would “only curtail our ability to help the growing number of people in need”.

The ban on women working is the latest blow against women’s rights in Afghanistan since the Taliban reclaimed power last year.

Less than a week ago, the Taliban also barred women from attending universities, prompting global outrage and protests in some Afghan cities.

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