Reports of violence in northern Afghanistan, including the gang rape of a female international aid worker, have raised further concerns about security in the war-torn nation with several international groups threatening to leave the country. “Many aid workers, noting the climate of fear and insecurity in the region, are considering reducing or discontinuing there work there,” said UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva. One US aid organization, whose vehicle was attacked Friday while taking food to a camp for displaced Afghans, has already left. Another nongovernmental organization, which was operating a health clinic in Shulgareh in Balkh province when gunmen opened fire on the clinic, is considering following suit. On June 8, a woman working for a nongovernmental organization was gang raped by seven men who attacked her vehicle and beat up the Afghan staff member with her, according to Almeida. In a letter to Afghanistan’s newly-elected president Hamid Karzai, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called these reports of violence “a serious situation.”
The Feminist Majority has been leading women’s organizations in calling for President Bush to expand security forces in Afghanistan. “Now more than ever it is vitally important that the United States send more peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “To not only keep the international workers safe but to protect the lives of the men, women and children of Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, debate continued over whether or not delegates to the loya jirga would have the right to approve Karzai’s cabinet and the composition of the parliament. After two days of contentious debate, delegate protests and adjournments, Karzai is expected to announce cabinet appointments Tuesday, the final day of the loya jirga.