Un steps back from Kandahar

A surge in violence has the UN withdrawing staff from the Afghan province

by Audrey Nolin

Resulting from three bomb attacks targeting the Kandahar’s deputy police Chief Fazal Ahmad Sherzad and because of the city’s generally deteriorating security, the United Nations moved for the partial withdrawal and relocation of its staff to Kabul.

According to UN spokesman Dan McNorton, the UN does not seek to completely withdraw itself from Kandahar and stresses on the fact that the organization is still committed in continuing its humanitarian aid throughout Afghanistan.

“Due to the current security situation in Kandahar, we have temporarily relocated several of our non-Afghan staff to Kabul. We will continue to monitor the security situation in Kandahar and hope to get back to work as soon as possible,” McNorton says.

Two bombs exploded consecutively in the center of Kandahar city targeting Sherzad. A roadside bomb was first released then a motorbike laden with explosives was set-off a few minutes later.

“I was the target. I take this road at this time every day going to work and back home,” Sherzad said to The Globe and Mail.

Two hours later, a third bomb exploded in the North of the city which, according to the Interior ministry, “the blast killed two civilians and injured one policeman and one civilian.”

Kandahar city and its civilians are living in constant fear because of this ongoing violence.

“Every day I go to work I am scared. I am afraid of every person, every vehicle. I do not leave my home unless I work,” claims a 49-year-old construction worker Naimitullah.

Since Apr.12, fatal attacks multiplied in Kandahar including at least 20 civilians “ranging from prominent politicians to children not yet old enough to attend school, randomly killed in bomb blasts,” reported the Globe and Mail.

The UN staffers are often targeted by the Talibans, mostly the Afghan employees. The UN has been on the defensive in Afghanistan since last October where three suicide attackers killed five UN employees and three Afghan citizens. After the attack, the UN decided to transfer 600 from its 1,100 employees out of the country or in neighbourhoods with higher security.

“We’re re-evaluating the security situation and have pulled some of our staff to Kabul,” says Susan Manuel, director of communications for the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan.

According to Provincial Governor Tooryalai Wesa, “the surge of tens of thousands of American troops this summer will stabilize the situation.”

However, not everyone is convinced that US troops will successfully stabilize and ensure security in Kandahar since the security is constantly deteriorating and Talibans do not seem to want to agree to a ceasefire.

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