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Afghanistan: Secretary-General condemns murder of five aid workers

Afghanistan: Secretary-General condemns murder of five aid workers

Kofi Annan
Expressing his anger and distress, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today condemned the murder of five members of the non-governmental organization Médecins sans Frontières-Holland in northwestern Afghanistan and called on the country's authorities to bring their killers to justice.

Two MSF staff from Afghanistan and one each from the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium were killed yesterday in an apparent ambush on the road between the towns of Khairkana and Qala-I-Naw in Afghanistan's province.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Annan decried "the cold-blooded killing" of the five unarmed aid workers and offered his condolences to their families.

Mr. Annan urged the Afghan Government, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and coalition forces to take all necessary steps to protect aid workers and bring the perpetrators of Wednesday's killings to justice.

Earlier, the Secretary-General Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, called the attack "yet another tragic and unacceptable act directed at the aid community."

During a briefing to the Security Council in New York on 27 May, Mr. Arnault stressed that security in the country remained insufficient and noted that in recent months the situation had worsened.

"Sadly and worryingly, yesterday's attack confirms this assessment," he said in today's statement.

The envoy has directed all required UN assets in Afghanistan to be made available to support MSF in this most difficult hour. A UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) helicopter left Kandahar this morning to transport the bodies of the three international staff back to Kabul for eventual repatriation by MSF.

"The aid community, with international and national personnel, is in Afghanistan to help the needy and vulnerable, to help strengthen Afghan institutions, and to help Afghans rebuild their country," Mr. Arnault said. "To do this, the security of personnel from civilian aid organizations and the United Nations must be assured."

He called on the Afghan people and leaders to reject those groups who commit acts of violence and to support the efforts to build a more peaceful, just and prosperous country.