United Nations officials today voiced outrage at the “heinous” murder of a UN refugee worker in Afghanistan and called for greater security measures to protect those assisting the war-torn country.
The staff member, Bettina Goislard, a French national, was in a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) car in the centre of Ghazni city when two men on a motorcycle opened fire on the vehicle, killing her and wounding her driver. The two attackers have been arrested and an investigation is under way.
A UN spokesman said Secretary-General Kofi Annan was “distressed and angered to learn of the cold-blooded killing,” which he called “outrageous and contemptible.”
The attack comes less than a week after a bombing in front of the UN offices in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and follows a series of other incidents directed against the UN family and aid agencies. “The Secretary-General believes this latest incident underscores the urgent need for the international community to provide stronger security in areas outside the capital, Kabul,” the spokesman said, calling Afghan Government and the world at large to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of UN and other agency and humanitarian staff providing assistance for the reconstruction of a peaceful Afghanistan.
The statement also pledged the world body's continued help. “The United Nations remains determined in its support for the people of Afghanistan.”
Mr. Annan's chief envoy in the country, Lakhdar Brahimi, echoed these views in a statement released by his spokesman in Kabul, condemning “in the strongest possible terms this murderous attack against a person who dedicated herself to supporting and protecting refugee families who have been returning to their country since 2002.”
Extending sympathy to Ms. Goislard's family and friends, Mr. Brahimi paid tribute to her dedication. “Her commitment to helping the most vulnerable Afghans start a new life after long years of exile illustrates the very essence of the UN mission in Afghanistan.”
Referring to the broader security problems plaguing the country, the envoy said, “They do not undermine but rather strengthen the determination of the UN to continue its political, economic and humanitarian support to the people of Afghanistan.”
To achieve this, he appealed to the Afghan Government and the international community to “re-double efforts to create a secure environment in which the basic aspirations of Afghans for reconstruction and the rule of law can be fulfilled.”