World Bank Suspends Projects Worth $600 Million in Afghanistan after Girls' School Ban

Abhi Thakur

The World Bank has suspended four projects totaling $600 million in Afghanistan, the BBC reported on Wednesday, due to the Taliban's ban on girls returning to secondary schools. The projects were focused on improving education, health, and agriculture.

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Afghanistan students in a school(ThePrint)

Following months of restrictions, the Taliban overturned a decision to allow the schools to reopen last week.

According to the Taliban, schools would reopen only when a decision on female students' uniforms was made in accordance with "Sharia law and Afghan tradition."

Following international condemnation of the move, demonstrators gathered on Saturday near the Ministry of Education in Kabul to demand that the schools be reopened.

The World Bank projects were aimed at providing women and girls in Afghanistan with the same level of access to services as males.

They are funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which was put on hold last year when the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan.

The World Bank's executive board authorized a proposal to utilize more than $1 billion from the fund to help "urgent needs" in education, agriculture, and health at the beginning of this month.

According to the plan, the money was not to be given to Taliban officials, but rather to be disbursed through UN agencies and relief organizations.

"As a first step, the ARTF donors will decide on four projects of approximately $600m to support urgent needs in the education, health, and agriculture sectors, as well as community livelihoods," the bank said in a statement on 1 March.

"This $600m will be supplemented with additional allocations from the ARTF during 2022 as conditions allow," it added.

"This phased approach is designed to be flexible and adaptive, recognizing that the situation on the ground remains fluid."

The Taliban's activities were condemned as "profoundly troubling" by officials from ten nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, in a joint statement released on Friday.

Meetings with the Taliban that were due to take place in Qatar have also been canceled by the US State Department.

Source: News18

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