Letter: Plight of Kabul

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your article "How the children of Kabul are sacrificed to sexual politics of the West" (16 January) is misleading. While some agencies have continued to operate in Kabul, large numbers of aid agencies felt forced to withdraw their staff from the capital last summer; but it was with great regret and grave concern for the future of the city's people.

Agencies faced very real security concerns at the time. In addition, some organisations found themselves restricted by a series of conditions determined by the Taliban - many of them directly contravening human rights conventions - which made it virtually impossible for them to provide healthcare for women and children or to employ women for this purpose.

The decision to leave was not based upon "Western assumptions about sexual equality".

Where they can be effective, aid programmes have not been suspended, and many of them are operated by Afghan staff.

Agencies are struggling with one of the most difficult operating environments in the world to meet the needs of a highly impoverished population.

ELIZABETH WINTER

Chair, British Agencies Afghanistan Group

On behalf of Afghanaid, CARE International UK, Child Advocacy International, Children in Crisis, Christian Aid, Emergency Relief Unit, MERLIN, SAFE, Ockenden Venture, Oxfam, Save the Children and Tearfund

London SW8

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