UNHCR shocked at latest attack on Afghan partner agency
GENEVA, Sept 26 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency has expressed shock at a recent attack on its partner agency's staff in southern Afghanistan, the latest in a spate of violence against aid workers in the country.
On Wednesday, staff members of the Voluntary Association for the Rehabilitation of Afghanistan (VARA) were attacked in Grishk district of Hilmand province in southern Afghanistan. One of them, an engineer, was killed, and the driver seriously injured. A third worker escaped unhurt. Their car was burnt but nothing was reportedly stolen.
VARA is one of UNHCR's partner agencies in Afghanistan. It operates several transit centres for returning refugees, and has agricultural projects in the area.
"This apparent brutal targeting of aid workers is yet another violation of the traditional umbrella of security that humanitarian agencies have long benefited from," said UNHCR spokesman Peter Kessler at a news briefing in Geneva Friday.
Road missions by humanitarian agencies beyond Hilmand province's capital, Lashka Gah, were suspended after Wednesday's attack, which comes less than two weeks after four Afghans working with the Danish aid agency, Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR), were murdered in central Afghanistan.
In August, a Mercy Corps local staff member was killed in Hilmand province in an attack that claimed six other Afghan lives. Earlier in the year, an expatriate aid worker from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was also murdered in the same area.