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World Bank freezes Afghan projects after Taliban bans girls from high school

The projects, to be funded under the revamped Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, were being readied for implementation by United Nations agencies to support projects in agriculture, education, health, and livelihoods.

March 30, 2022 / 06:56 AM IST
Her sister Hadia, who is 10, has noticed that some of her former teachers and classmates are no longer around - she assumes they were among thousands of Afghans who fled Kabul in the chaotic weeks that followed the Taliban's conquest. (Image: Reuters)

Her sister Hadia, who is 10, has noticed that some of her former teachers and classmates are no longer around - she assumes they were among thousands of Afghans who fled Kabul in the chaotic weeks that followed the Taliban's conquest. (Image: Reuters)

The World Bank has put four projects in Afghanistan worth $600 million on hold amid concerns over a decision by the country's ruling Islamist leaders to ban girls from returning to public high schools, the bank said.

The projects, to be funded under the revamped Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, were being readied for implementation by United Nations agencies to support projects in agriculture, education, health, and livelihoods.

But the bank's guidance requires all ARTF-financed activities to support access to - and equity of services for - women and girls in Afghanistan, the bank said, citing its deep concerns over the Taliban's ban on girls attending high school.

As a result, the bank said, the four projects will be presented to ARTF donors for approval only "when the World Bank and international partners have a better understanding of the situation and confidence that the goals of the projects can be met." It was not immediately clear when that could occur.