Asia Pacific

Taliban say Afghan women health service staff should go back to work

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Aug 27 (Reuters) - The Taliban have asked all women healthcare workers to return to work, a spokesman said on Friday amid mounting pressure on public services that has risen as many trained and educated Afghans have fled the country.

Women have been discouraged from going to work and even been turned away from their offices, prompting fears the movement will repeat the stance of their previous government before 2001 when women were not allowed to work.

However, growing complaints that the fragile health system was short of staff appear to have prompted an about-face.

"The Ministry of Public Health of the Islamic Emirate advises all women employees in the centre and provinces that they should attend work regularly," a statement from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

"They will face no impediment to performing their duties from the Islamic Emirate," he said.

Since the Taliban swept into Kabul on Aug. 15, they have struggled to re-establish basic services, with many specialists associated with the Western-backed government joining an exodus out of the country or remaining at home out of fear of reprisal.

Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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