Drawing the line

Published: Tuesday 31 August 2004

After 24 years of independent humanitarian work Belgium-based Mdecins Sans Frontires (msf) will withdraw from Afghanistan. The announcement came in the wake of the Afghan government's failure to conduct a credible investigation, following the killing of five msf aid workers in an attack on June 2, in the northwestern province of Badghis.

"We have an outstanding call for murder over our heads," said Marine Buissonnire, msf secretary-general, and went on to explain that the Taliban threat had contributed to the decision. "Aid workers can't be targeted," she stressed, noting that a Taliban spokesperson had claimed responsibility for the killing, arguing that such organisations supported us interests.

ngos working in Afghanistan have expressed concern over the pullout, describing it as a worrying message to the international aid community. Meanwhile, the Afghan government has reaffirmed its commitment to address the security concerns of aid workers. Spokesperson for the Afghan interior ministry, Lutfullah Mashal said that it was government's duty to ensure the security of those who were working to help the Afghan people.

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