The United Nations Security Council, under the current presidency of India, on Tuesday said that it was deeply alarmed by reports that the Taliban have suspended access to universities for women and girls in Afghanistan.

Last week, the insurgent group had ordered an indefinite ban on university education for all female students in the country. The Taliban administration had also asked all local and international non-governmental organisations to stop their female employees from coming to work.

In a statement on Tuesday, the 15-member Security Council said the ban “represents an increasing erosion for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. It called for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

The Security Council urged the Taliban to reopen schools and swiftly reverse such policies and practices.

The intergovernmental body also raised concerns about Taliban rulers asking all NGOs to stop women staff from working, saying the ban would have a significant and immediate impact for humanitarian operations in country, including those of the United Nations.

At least five global aid groups have suspended operations in Afghanistan because they were unable to run their programmes without female staff, AFP reported.

After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August last year, the insurgent group had claimed that there would be no discrimination against women.

“These restrictions contradict the commitments made by the Taliban to the Afghan people, as well as the expectations of the international community,” the Security Council said in its statement.