United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers today deplored the "cold-blooded murder" of four Afghans working for a Danish aid agency on a UNHCR-funded water project in central Afghanistan, the latest in a recent spate of attacks on relief workers in the country including mine clearers.
"I am deeply shocked by this latest atrocity, which seems to have been deliberately targeted at aid workers," Mr. Lubbers said of Monday's attack on the men who were returning from working on a water supply project in a village in Ghazni province when their car was stopped by a group of nine men, seven of them said to have been masked.
The workers were apparently ordered out of the car, lectured about working for an aid agency - thereby supporting the government - and summarily executed. A fifth worker was wounded in the attack and is now in hospital in Kabul, the Afghan capital.
"It is incomprehensible to me 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," Mr. Lubbers said. "Their ideology is so debauched they are even killing the de-miners and the water-providers."
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. 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.