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NEWS: MSF Pulls out of Afghanistan, US Forces Use Aid as Political Tool

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posted on Jul, 29 2004 @ 03:21 AM
Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) announced today that it will cease aid operations in Afghanistan after serving in that country since 1980. They cited a recent Taliban attack on their workers as a reason, and claimed that US armed forces were blurring the lines between military action and humanitarian relief, causing aid groups to become targets in the region.
With a deep feeling of sadness and anger Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announces today the closure of all medical programs in Afghanistan. MSF is taking this decision in the aftermath of the killing of five MSF aid workers in a deliberate attack on June 2nd, when a clearly marked MSF vehicle was ambushed in the northerwestern province of Badghis. Five of our colleagues were mercilessly shot in the attack. This targeted killing of five of its aid workers is unprecedented in the history of MSF, which has been delivering medical humanitarian assistance in some of the most violent conflicts around the world over the last 30 years.

Although government officials have presented MSF with credible evidence that local commanders conducted the attack, they have neither detained nor publicly called for their arrest. The lack of government response to the killings represents a failure of responsibility and an inadequate commitment to the safety of aid workers on its soil.


The violence directed against humanitarian aid workers has come in a context in which the US backed coalition has consistently sought to use humanitarian aid to build support for its military and political ambitions. MSF denounces the coalition’s attempts to co-opt humanitarian aid and use it to “win hearts and minds”. By doing so, providing aid is no longer seen as an impartial and neutral act, endangering the lives of humanitarian volunteers and jeopardizing the aid to people in need. Only recently, on May 12th 2004, MSF publicly condemned the distribution of leaflets by the coalition forces in southern Afghanistan in which the population was informed that providing information about the Taliban and al Qaeda was necessary if they wanted the delivery of aid to continue.

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MSF is an organization which has consistently provided aid to the most difficult and war-ravaged peoples of the world. They would not have taken such a decision lightly. I was particularly disturbed by the fact that they claim US troops were using humanitarian relief as a tool of political blackmail. I find it difficult to fault armed forces who are providing such aid- but if MSF claims that it's become a problem for aid groups, the claim should warrant some attention. At the very least it says something about the security situation in Afghanistan, often sidelined by the situation in Iraq.

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[edit on 29-7-2004 by Zion Mainframe]


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