Security concerns for aid workers grow in Afghanistan (image Dunya)
The Czech non-governmental organization People in Need (PIN) has issued a statement suspending their services in Afghanistan following the killing of 7 aid workers and 2 guards who were allegedly shot dead whilst sleeping at a guesthouse in the Zari district of Balkh province, Afghanistan.
The NGO stated,
“with deep sorrow we inform that a PIN field office in Zare, Northern Afghanistan, was attacked in the night from 1st to 2nd June. Nine of our national colleagues were killed. Investigation is ongoing, the identity of the attackers is not known. PIN has been working in the area since 2002.
We hereby express our deepest condolences to the families of our colleagues, respect to their work, and we condemn this attack, unprecedented in its brutality. PIN immediately suspends all work in Afghanistan and is adopting measures to strengthen the security of its employees in the country.”
Amnesty International condemned the attack highlighting that “targeting civilians for attack – including humanitarian workers – is a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.” Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher Horia Mosadiq said:
“being an aid worker in Afghanistan is an extremely risky business which will only become more dangerous if the authorities fail to ensure those responsible for these disgraceful attacks face justice.
“The latest attack must be urgently investigated and those responsible brought to justice. Anything less will send the message that aid workers are a fair target.”
No- one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack on the aid workers in Balkh. Islamic Emirate, (Afghan Taliban) claimed responsibility for an earlier attack on a guest house in Kabul frequented by foreigners as part of Taliban Spring Offensive Operation Azm. The Taliban are very unhappy at US military plans to extend use of foreign civilians in their continuing “occupation” of the country, see following link,
“Afghanistan: Islamic Emirate claim attack on Kabul hotel, release reaction to latest NATO announcement”
What doesn’t help security are the regular reports of human rights abuses and corruption by foreigners in Afghanistan. The latest involves two men from the US that “pleaded guilty for their roles in a scheme to launder approximately $250,000 in bribes received from Afghan contractors.” The individuals were named as Jimmy W. Dennis, 44, former First Sergeant with the U.S. Army and James C. Pittman, 45, of Rossville, Georgia. A statement from the US Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs reads,
“according to pleadings filed at the time of the guilty pleas, from March 2008 through March 2009, Dennis was an Army Sergeant assigned as a paying agent in the Humanitarian Aid Yard (HA Yard) at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. Dennis was a member of the team in the HA Yard that purchased supplies from local Afghan vendors for distribution as part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program for urgent humanitarian relief requirements in Afghanistan. Dennis and a partner entered into an agreement to steer contracts to certain Afghan vendors in return for approximately $250,000 in cash bribes.”
“smuggled the bribe money back to the United States hidden in packages addressed to his wife, his father and a former Army friend, Pittman. Dennis sent $80,000 to $100,000 to his father from Afghanistan in packages that contained toy “jingle trucks,” colorfully decorated trucks or buses in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Dennis hid the money in the rear compartment of the toy trucks. Dennis also shipped a hope chest to his father containing approximately $100,000 in cash in a concealed compartment.”
Human Rights organizations must be vocal in condemning those that exploit and violate the Afghan people. The continued presence of US and NATO allies will only incite further violence in the coming months.
“In Mazar, Afghans enjoy life as fighting draws near”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.