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UPDATE: International Federation of Social Workers visit to Afghanistan

IFSW has met with the social workers organisation in Afghanistan this week after the Taliban government approved the visit.

06/02/23

UPDATE: International Federation of Social Workers visit to Afghanistan

International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) has visited the Afghanistan Social Workers Organisation this week.

At a press conference on Wednesday (1 February) in Kabul, the Afghanistan Social Work Organization (ASO) invited speakers from The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs along with IFSW to address the press on social work’s contribution to Afghanistan’s social development.

The panel spoke about the scale of the issues faced by the Afghan people with the absence of infrastructure and the geopolitical decisions that have paralyzed economic activity, and how this has resulted in extreme poverty and isolation from the rest of the world.

The focus of the press conference highlighted that the social workers in Afghanistan are a resource for people, working within communities, for economic and social development.

“We have links with every community. Our profession is now permanently established in Afghanistan. We are confident that we can work with many partners, communities, government, and people for sustainable and resilient development,” President of the ASO, Masoud Ayubi, said.

Rory Truell, Secretary-General of IFSW, echoed the statement saying: “Social workers see the resources in all countries rooted in the strengths of people, families, communities, and cultures. These are foundations for building the economy, public services infrastructure, and social protection systems for thriving futures.”

“Our international experience of countries with similar challenges tells us that working together to design and implement this infrastructure can result in rapid social development,” Rory added.

IFSW Global Vice President Ana Radulescu, who was in attendance at the press conference and in meetings with the Taliban, was asked about the ban on women working in NGOs.

“Since being in Afghanistan, we have continuously been told by everyone that the ban is intended as a temporary measure while the government works through its political dispute with the UN,” Ms Radulescu confirmed.

“Social workers work with everyone in processes that bring people together in respectful understanding to move forward, which at this stage is more important than seeking an aspirational promise.”

The visit comes at a time when Afghanistan is going through significant challenges and support from many international humanitarian agencies has been withdrawn due to the Taliban government’s decision preventing women in NGOs from working.

IFSW responded to a request from the Afghanistan Social Workers Organisation to meet with them, as well as local NGOs and key government Ministries.

IFSW has been in regular contact with the President of the Afghanistan Social Work Organisation, Massoud Ayoubi who has worked tirelessly with the Taliban government, communities and NGOs, during this critical period, to promote the co-building necessary in the social and economic development of Afghanistan.

“It is IFSW’s responsibility to stand together with social workers in times of challenge and I am very happy that we are able to send a very experienced team that can work alongside local social workers, communities and authorities supporting bridges for respectful inclusive development,” IFSW President Joachim Mumba commented.

The trip was approved by the Taliban government, and the ASO/IFSW representatives met with various Ministries to highlight the importance of social work to the social and economic development of Afghanistan. ASO President, Massoud Ayoubi hopes that this visit will stimulate ongoing partnerships to support development in Afghanistan and start the process of ASO joining IFSW as an independent professional association.

Political control of the country changed rapidly following the withdrawal of the US military and other international armed forces in June 2021.

Since taking control of the country, the Taliban have broken multiple pledges to respect human rights.

“Authorities have imposed severe restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights, suppressed the media, and arbitrarily detained, tortured, and summarily executed critics and perceived opponents, among other abuses,” Human Rights Watch said.

“Taliban human rights abuses have brought widespread condemnation and imperilled international efforts to address the country’s dire humanitarian situation.”

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