Taliban Ends Red Cross Ban, Promises Security Guarantees

Taliban now says they will welcome humanitarian work in their territory

Taliban leaders issued a statement Sunday announcing that they are revoking their previous ban on the Red Cross in Afghanistan, and will now offer security guarantees for any of its staff doing humanitarian work in Taliban-held territory.

The Taliban holds substantial parts of war-torn Afghanistan, and likely could use some humanitarian support in those areas. They’d banned both the Red Cross and WHO in April, accusing them of “suspicious activities” related to a vaccination campaign.

Though it’s not clear what the cause of that ban was, suspicion of vaccination programs have been serious across the region since the US used a phony vaccination scheme in Pakistan to collect DNA while trying to locate Osama bin Laden. Though this was ultimately successful, it also made vaccination programs very dangerous, and chased a lot of aid groups out of the region.

The Red Cross has long maintained neutrality in the conflict, but would need a guarantee of security to operate in Taliban-controlled territory. As this is not unsubstantial territory, it may take some time for them to scale back up to cover the area.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.