U.N. Aid Workers Killed; Many Aid Groups Leave Afghanistan
Two local U.N. aid workers in Jalalabad were killed in a Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan after being kidnapped on July 13. The U.N. began investigating the deaths after the men's bodies were found this weekend.
Mohammed Nazir Habibi, age forty-nine, worked for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Mohammed Hasidim Bahsaryar, age fifty-five, worked for World Food Programme.
News of their deaths came around the same time as the Taliban forced workers from numerous international aid groups to move to a single delapidated building at the edge of Kabul. The Taliban also demanded that the workers pay one million dollars to set up the power and water connections needed to work there.
Workers feared that living in at the isolated outpost would set them up as targets for attacks and kidnappings. Thirty-eight aid organizations have been forced to leave Kabul because of this danger, including Save the Children, which provided health care for 80,000 children a year. Care International removed all of its international workers, but left a program that feeds 11,000 widows in place by staffing it with locals. The European Commission suspended its aid entirely in Kabul, as did the European Union (EU).
Most groups pulled out after the Taliban raided their offices and arrested Afghan staff members last Monday. The (EU) also cited the Taliban's "systematic" disregard of an agreement to use aid money for both women and men.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .