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Afghanistan: Herat staff relocated to Kabul following attack on UNHCR office

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: Herat staff relocated to Kabul following attack on UNHCR office

14 September 2004

You may have all seen our press release yesterday about the temporary suspension of UNHCR's operation in Herat following the attacks against our offices at the weekend. UNHCR is now reviewing the situation on a daily basis, and hopes to resume its work in Herat soon.

All international staff members, and a number of national employees, have been flown out of Herat and relocated to Kabul, where they arrived late on Monday afternoon. They will return to Herat as soon as the security situation allows.

Preliminary assessments indicate that our office in Herat was completely looted when a crowd of a few hundred people attacked the premises on Sunday morning. Windows were broken and doors smashed. The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, Filippo Grandi, who visited the scene, described the state of the building as "very shocking".

UNHCR, in close cooperation with other UN agencies, is now in talks with the new governor of Herat's province to ensure that incidents such as this one do not happen again, and that the safety of staff is guaranteed. The High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, has expressed concern at the attacks and regrets that the violence of a small group of people has led to the suspension of operations in Herat, a key province for UNHCR's activities in Afghanistan.