U.N. Aid Workers Killed; Many Aid Groups Leave Afghanistan

Two local U.N. aid workers in Jalalabad were killed in a Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan after being kidnapped on July 13. The U.N. began investigating the deaths after the men’s bodies were found this weekend. Mohammed Nazir Habibi, age forty-nine, worked for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Mohammed Hasidim Bahsaryar, age fifty-five, worked for World Food Programme.

News of their deaths came around the same time as the Taliban forced workers from numerous international aid groups to move to a single delapidated building at the edge of Kabul. The Taliban also demanded that the workers pay one million dollars to set up the power and water connections needed to work there.

Workers feared that living in at the isolated outpost would set them up as targets for attacks and kidnappings. Thirty-eight aid organizations have been forced to leave Kabul because of this danger, including Save the Children, which provided health care for 80,000 children a year. Care International removed all of its international workers, but left a program that feeds 11,000 widows in place by staffing it with locals. The European Commission suspended its aid entirely in Kabul, as did the European Union (EU).

Most groups pulled out after the Taliban raided their offices and arrested Afghan staff members last Monday. The (EU) also cited the Taliban’s “systematic” disregard of an agreement to use aid money for both women and men.


AFP and AP - July 20 & 21, 1998

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