Red Cross drastically reduces operations in Afghanistan
An Afghan man passes by the office of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Oct. 9, 2017. EPA-EFE/NAJIM RAHEEM
Afghan men are reflected in a mirror as they receive relief goods at the office of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Oct. 9, 2017. EPA-EFE/NAJIM RAHEEM
Kabul, Oct 9 (efe-epa).- The International Committee of the Red Cross has decided to drastically reduce its presence and operations in Afghanistan over the deteriorating security situation which has led to the deaths of several of its workers in recent months.
Following intense conversations at its headquarters in Geneva, the organization decided there is no other option than to reduce its presence and activities in Afghanistan, said ICRC Afghanistan delegation head Monica Zanarelli in a statement released Monday.
"Since December 2016, the ICRC has been directly targeted in northern Afghanistan three times, including in what we considered one of our safest facilities, the rehabilitation centre in Mazar-i-Sharif," she said.
"These incidents have affected not only the ICRC in Afghanistan, but the organization as a whole," Zanarelli added.
The ICRC spokesperson in Kabul, Syawash Kohzad, told EFE that the reduction in operations will mainly affect the organization in northern Afghanistan, where the Red Cross has lost seven workers in armed attacks in the last nine months.
Kohzad explained that the offices in Kunduz and Faryab will be closed and will result in a serious reduction in the work and personnel in Mazar-i-Sharif.
The ICRC will try to transfer some of their operations to other entities by the middle of next year, such as those in the orthopedic center in Balkh, which could be transferred to other partners or the Afghan government, he said.
"This is a difficult moment for the ICRC and the staff," said Zanarelli.
However, she underlined that the decision does not imply an exit of the Red Cross from Afghanistan but rather the limiting of risk assumed by the workers.
On Sept. 11, one of its workers, Lorena Enebral Perez, was killed at her place of work, which led the ICRC to suspend its activities in the northeastern part of the country.
In February this year, the organization temporarily suspended its operations in Afghanistan following the killing of six of its workers and the disappearance of another two in the country's north.
Moreover, in December 2016 another Red Cross worker was kidnapped in northern Kunduz province and freed four weeks later by the Afghan special forces.