Afghanistan’s Taliban lifts ban on WHO activities – spokesman
Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency has lifted a ban on World Health Organization (WHO) activities in areas the militants control, a spokesman for the Islamist group said. The move could reverse a stance that had been complicating efforts to eradicate polio.
The Taliban had in April banned the WHO and International Committee of the Red Cross, citing their “suspicious activities” during vaccination campaigns, which threatened to deepen one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, Reuters said.
The health arm of the United Nations has been carrying out a vaccination campaign in Afghanistan, one of just three countries where polio is still endemic.
“After realizing its shortcomings and following constant contact and meetings with our representatives, the WHO received permission for their activities,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said. In a statement, the Taliban gave a guarantee of safety for WHO staff but also set conditions for its return, including only doing health work and getting the insurgency’s permission before hiring workers.