UN Aid Worker Slain in Afghanistan; Women Candidates Threatened

A United Nations aid worker was killed on Sunday in Ghazni by two men whom authorities believe are Taliban rebels. The 29-year-old Frenchwoman, Bettina Goislard, who was working for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was the first UN staff to be killed in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban two years ago. This attack came less than a week after a bomb exploded near a UN vehicle carrying three Afghan UN employees and another bomb was set off outside the UN offices in Kandahar. Taliban officials have warned that they would not spare any foreign aid workers or the Afghans working for them, reports Reuters.

In addition, women chosen to represent their provinces in the upcoming loya jirga (grand council) are being threatened by letters warning them that if they continue trying to elect women to the loya jirga they will be targeted, reports the Christian Science Monitor. In Paktika Province, no women have registered for elections even though they were supposed to have an election on November 3 and in Parwan the mullah announced that women should not participate in the elections, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

After a recent visit to Afghanistan, the United Nations Security Council reported that the lack of security has “affected the entire Afghan peace process” and has seriously slowed reconstruction efforts, reports the Washington Post.

Even with new commitments by the United Nations and NATO to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul, concerns remain over whether the size of the expansion will be large enough and whether the troop size in Kabul will be reduced, a move that many experts say would destabilize the already fragile Afghan central government. For two years, the Afghan government, the United Nations, and human rights and women’s rights organizations have requested expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, which has been limited to some 5,500 troops in Kabul.

LEARN MORE Find out how the Bush Administration is graded on Afghanistan in the latest Global Women’s Issues Scorecard

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Reuters 11/17/03; Washington Post 11/16/03; Christian Science Monitor 11/14/03

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