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Afghanistan: UNHCR remembers murdered Bettina Goislard

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: UNHCR remembers murdered Bettina Goislard

16 November 2004

Today, UNHCR remembers our colleague Bettina Goislard, who was murdered a year ago in the centre of Ghazni, in south-eastern Afghanistan. Yesterday (Monday) in Kabul, members of her family, UN colleagues, diplomats and government officials gathered in a small chapel inside the Italian Embassy to honour her memory and pay tribute to her commitment to helping Afghans return to their homes. The service was followed by a wreath laying ceremony at her grave site in Kabul's British cemetery.

Bettina, who had asked to be buried in Afghanistan should anything happen to her, is remembered by all for her devotion to the country and her tireless efforts to assist refugees. Since her tragic death, the perpetrators have been brought to justice and our Afghan colleague, Mr. Abdul Salam, who was in the same car, has recovered from his injuries after extensive treatment and therapy.

Bettina, unfortunately, was not the last humanitarian victim in Afghanistan in the past twelve months. Two Afghan colleagues from our implementing partner Malteser and five MSF colleagues were killed this year. The recent kidnapping of three UNAMA colleagues in broad daylight in Kabul is a worrying example of how delicate and complex the working environment remains, and we are all hoping for their release.

The first presidential elections have successfully taken place in Afghanistan, opening up a new era of hope and opportunity, yet security remains a concern. In a message issued to staff yesterday, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said he would continue to stress with governments that security is a prerequisite for the humanitarian community to assist those most in need.