Top UN envoy condemns suicide blast in Afghanistan

Top UN envoy condemns suicide blast in Afghanistan

Tom Koenigs, SRSG for Afghanistan
The senior United Nations envoy to Afghanistan has expressed his outrage over today’s terrorist attack in Uruzgan province resulting in several deaths and injuries, stating that such utter disregard for innocent lives is “staggering” and makes a “mockery” of recent statements indicating concern for the safety of civilians.

“In no culture, no country, and no religion is there any excuse or justification for mass murder,” Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, said in a statement.

Mr. Koenigs, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), added that today’s incident underscores UNAMA’s deep concern about the use of suicide attacks.

He voiced particular concern at reports of a large number of children being among the dead, and noted that the mission has “stressed repeatedly the need for all sides in this conflict to do their utmost to prevent harm coming to civilians.”

Mr. Koenigs said today’s attack represents a “heavy violation” of international humanitarian and human rights laws, and stressed that those behind it must be held responsible.

Afghanistan has witnessed a string of attacks in recent weeks, constituting some of the worst violence since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, including an attempt on the life of President Hamid Karzai, the bombing of a bus carrying police trainers, shootings outside a girls’ school and the murder of prominent female Afghan journalists.

Today’s attack also drew criticism from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), whose Representative in Afghanistan spoke out against continued attacks against schools and schoolchildren.

UNICEF is concerned by these incidents and the intimidation in some communities aimed at stopping families from sending children to school,” Catherine Mbengue said in a statement. “Schools of course are a visible sign of reconstruction and progress, and there are those who perhaps fear such progress.”

Over the past couple of days, rockets fired by militants struck a primary school in Kunar province, killing one child instantly and injuring three other children, and a school in Ghor province was burnt down.

UNICEF continues to be in discussion with local leaders, village elders and religious leaders to identify ways in which education can be continued, she said, adding that the agency stands ready to support any initiative “that will keep children learning in safety.”