Lubbers deplores murder of Afghan aid workers
GENEVA, Sept 10 (UNHCR) - UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers on Wednesday deplored the cold-blooded murder of four Afghans working for a Danish aid agency on a UNHCR-funded project in the central Afghan province of Ghazni. A fifth man was wounded during the attack on Monday and is now in hospital in Kabul.
Two of the men were full staff members of the Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR), and the other three were contract workers with the agency. They were returning from working on a water supply project in a village called Barakat in Ab Band district, when their car was stopped by a group of nine men, seven of whom are said to have been masked. They were apparently ordered out of the car, lectured about working for an aid agency - thereby supporting the government - and summarily executed.
"I am deeply shocked by this latest atrocity, which seems to have been deliberately targeted at aid workers," said Lubbers. "DACAAR is one of our most constant, reliable and respected partners. We have worked with them for many years in the refugee camps in Pakistan, as well as in areas of Afghanistan receiving returning refugees."
DACAAR has worked on behalf of Afghans since the 1980s, when more than 300 Afghan refugee camps sprang up in Pakistan to house the 3 million refugees fleeing the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Over the years the agency has implemented hundreds of water and sanitation projects on behalf of UNHCR.
When refugees began returning to Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, DACAAR also began working alongside UNHCR in returnee villages, as well as in camps for internally displaced people. Their specialization in providing water, a particularly precious commodity in a country devastated by drought, has made them one of the most indispensable partners for UNHCR, and one of the best known agencies to Afghan refugees. DACAAR pumps and wells are to be found all over this arid region.
"It is incomprehensible to me," said Lubbers, "how the perpetrators of this crime can care so little, not only for the lives of the individuals they have murdered, but also for the well-being of their own countrymen, who are struggling to restart their lives after more than two decades of turmoil. Their ideology is so debauched they are even killing the de-miners and the water-providers."