Today (28th July 2004) Relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have announced that they are reluctantly abandoning their work in Afghanistan as the area is no longer safe for their workers.
MSF has been working in Afghanistan for 24 years. They were there throughout the Soviet occupation and the subsequent war, the Taliban's repressive regime, and the US-led war to oust the Taliban and target al-Qaida.
Now, that the US and UK have successfully removed the Taliban and set up a "democratic regime", MSF is having to pull 80 international staff and 1,400 local employees working on projects in 13 provinces because of the deteriorating security situation!
MSF blamed the Afghan government for failing to protect aid workers, and US forces for "co-opting" humanitarian relief programmes for its own ends. Over 30 aid workers have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2003.
"After having worked nearly without interruption alongside the most vulnerable Afghan people since 1980, it is with outrage and bitterness that we take the decision to abandon them, but we simply cannot sacrifice the security of our volunteers while warring parties seek to target and kill humanitarian workers. Ultimately, it is the sick and destitute that suffer."
The decision was sparked by the murder of five MSF workers, in a clearly marked vehicle, who were shot dead on June 2, 2004. Their car was found riddled with bullets and embedded with shrapnel from a grenade.
Government officials have credible evidence that local commanders carried out the attack, but they released thirteen suspects without charge. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the killings, stating that that aid organisations such as MSF work for US interests.
MSF do not work for the US government, but have publicly stated that the US-led coalition in Afghanistan had "consistently sought to use humanitarian aid to build support for its military and political ambitions".
For example, US-led forces in southern Afghanistan have been distributing leaflets to locals stating that humanitarian assistance was dependent on locals providing information about the Taliban and al-Qaida.
So as the situation in Iraq continues to claim lives and people wonder about the decision to go to war remember that Afghanistan is also a recent casualty of US foreign policy and far from improving the situation for the Afghan people war has only made things worse.Return to Top