• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

Memorial service for Bettina Goislard

Briefing Notes, 21 November 2003

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Rupert Colville to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 21 November 2003, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Family, close friends and colleagues, diplomats and government officials buried Bettina Goislard on Thursday in Kabul's historic British Cemetery. The slain UNHCR aid worker was twenty-nine years-old. A private funeral service held earlier in the day was attended by her parents, brother and sister who arrived in Kabul a day earlier, as well as four government ministers.

Since arriving in Afghanistan 17 months ago, Bettina Goislard had become enamoured with the country and its people. She learned Farsi to better communicate with the Afghans with whom she worked closely, and was highly respected by local officials and the people of Ghazni. She was murdered last Sunday while going to work by two motorcycle gunmen who sprayed bullets into her vehicle, also injuring her UNHCR driver. Her assailants are now in the custody of the Afghan police.

Goislard had told her mother and close friends that she wanted to be buried in Afghanistan should something happen to her. We are deeply saddened that she got her wish, and we lost a promising young colleague so devoted to helping refugees.

Afghanistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is hosting a memorial service for Goislard this Sunday in Kabul. Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Kamel Morjane is travelling to Afghanistan to attend Sunday's service.

Following her death, we suspended activities in much of southern and eastern Afghanistan, withdrew workers from the affected provinces, and temporarily suspended all road missions throughout the country. Thirty expatriate UNHCR workers have been temporarily pulled back to Kabul or Islamabad. We also temporarily suspended operations at reception centres for returning refugees, effectively halting assistance to Afghans coming back from neighbouring Pakistan. With winter approaching and the fasting period of Ramadan in full swing, the number of returning refugees had already markedly declined. Some 570,000 Afghans have returned so far this year.

In addition to her parents, brother and sister, Goislard is survived by a nine-month-old half brother.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Pakistan: Fleeing to Safety

More than 1.5 million people flee their homes in North-West Pakistan.

Fighting between the army and Taliban militants in and around the Swat Valley in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province has displaced more than 1.5 million people since the beginning of May. Some of the displaced are being sheltered in camps set up by the government and supplied by UNHCR. Others - the majority, in fact - are staying in public buildings, such as schools, or with friends and extended family members. Living conditions are harsh. With the onset of summer, rising temperatures are contributing to a range of ailments, especially for villagers from Swat accustomed to a cooler climate. Pakistan's displacement crisis has triggered an outpouring of generosity at home. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is urging a "massive" assistance effort from abroad as well.

Pakistan: Fleeing to Safety

An Infant's Journey to Safety

Three days after giving birth to her fourth child, a girl she named Hawler, Peroz concluded that the situation in her hometown of Hassake, Syria, was too dangerous for her children. She decided to make the difficult journey to northern Iraq. Along the way, she and Hawler were sick. "I was terrified the baby might die," said Peroz, 27.

Although the border was closed, guards felt compassion for the newborn child and let Peroz's family enter. A few days later Peroz and her children were reunited with their father and now they are living with hundreds of other refugees in a small park on the outskirts of Erbil.

Battling mosquitoes and soaring daytime temperatures, and with little more than blankets for comfort and a breakfast of bread and cheese for nourishment, Peroz and her husband hope to be transferred to a new tented settlement.

Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of Syrians have flooded into northern Iraq, fleeing violence. With existing camps at full capacity, many refugee families are finding shelter anywhere they can. The local government has started transferring people from Qushtapa Park to a nearby camp. UNHCR is registering the refugees, as well as providing tents and life-saving assistance.

An Infant's Journey to Safety

Malian refugees flee for safety to Niger

Thousands of Malian families have arrived in Niger since mid-January, fleeing fighting between a rebel Tuareg movement and Malian government forces in northern Mali. Refugees are living in makeshift settlements along the border, exposed to the sun and wind by day, and cold at night. UNHCR has started distributing relief assistance and is planning to open camps in safer areas further away from the border. UNHCR's Helene Caux met with some the refugees who all expressed their desire to return to their country once peace prevails.

Malian refugees flee for safety to Niger

Iraq: The Long Journey to Safety Play video

Iraq: The Long Journey to Safety

As the number of people crossing from conflict-affected areas in Iraq into safe zones in Northern Region of Kurdistan decreases, their stories don't get any easier.
Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced IraqisPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced Iraqis

This week UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is visiting Iraq to meet with families displaced by conflict in recent weeks. After listening to accounts of their difficult journeys to safety, Guterres called for more support to help deal with the crisis. He will also visit some of the 300,000 Syrian refugees currently living in camps in northern Iraq.
Sweden: Mahmoud's EscapePlay video

Sweden: Mahmoud's Escape

Mahmoud was one of more than 300,000 Syrian refugees who have sought safety in Egypt since the conflict in his homeland began three years ago. The nine-year-old was so desperate to attend school that he risked his life to get to Europe. He was stopped and sent back to Egypt but is now making a fresh start in Sweden.