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A series of attacks in northern Afghanistan, where both the Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) have intensified their terror campaign, has prompted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to “drastically reduce” its operations in the country.
“We have no choice but to drastically reduce our presence and activities in Afghanistan,” Monica Zanarelli, the ICRC head in Afghanistan, told reporters on Monday, only a couple of days after the U.S-NATO-led war against jihadists in the country entered its 17th year on October 7.
Decision - Charity - Group - Afghanistan - Decades
The decision by the charity group, which has been operating in Afghanistan for decades, is a testament to the growing dangers for aid workers in the country.
“This is a difficult moment for the ICRC and the staff. After 30 years of continuous presence in the country, we are reducing our presence and operations. But let’s be very clear, we are not leaving Afghanistan. Limiting our staff’s exposure to risks is our focus, all the while assisting the people affected by the conflict the best way we can,” declared the ICRC chief in a statement.
ICRC - Staffers - Afghanistan - Aid - Workers
With an estimated 1,800 ICRC staffers in Afghanistan, including 120 international aid workers, the Red Cross’ operations in the country are its fourth largest worldwide.
ICRC revealed that it would close its offices in Faryab and Taliban hotbed Kunduz, both provinces in northern Afghanistan.
Scale - Operations - Mazar-i-Sharif - Capital - Afghanistan
Meanwhile, it will “seriously” scale back its operations in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Afghanistan’s Balkh province.
“We understand the consequences to stop our activities in the north, but we have no choice,” proclaimed Zanarelli.
Exposure - Risk - Challenge - Afghanistan - Risk
“Exposure to risk has become our greater challenge in Afghanistan, and we know that zero risk doesn’t exist, and we are not aiming at that, but our security has to be guaranteed by every party,” she added in a statement.
In recent years, ICRC staff members in Afghanistan have been victims...
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