International Red Cross to drastically reduce its operations in Afghanistan

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has decided to “drastically reduce” its presence in Afghanistan after a series of deadly attacks on its staff, the aid agency said in a statement on Monday.

The announcement underlines the deteriorating security for aid groups in Afghanistan, where the ICRC has been operating for more than 30 years and has been running its fourth biggest humanitarian program.

In February the Red Cross put all of its operations on hold after six employees died in an assault on an aid convoy.

Red Cross officials said the assessments are ongoing and could not say how many of its 1,800 staff would be affected.

Activities gradually resumed but last month a Spanish physiotherapist working in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif was shot dead by one of her patients. Four ICRC staff has also been abducted over the past year.

“We are going to keep operating like we did in the past. However, we will have to look much more seriously at our exposure to risk. Security of our staff has become a priority nowadays, “Monica Zanarelli told Al Jazeera from Kabul, the Afghan capital.

According to US military estimates, the government controls no more than 60 percent of the country, with the rest either controlled or contested by the armed Taliban and other armed groups.


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