Six team members from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were shot and killed this week in Afghanistan. Two others are unaccounted for.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms what appears to be a deliberate attack on our staff. This is a huge tragedy. We’re in shock,” said the president of the ICRC, Peter Maurer.
The team, composed of three drivers and five field officers, was on its way to deliver much-needed livestock materials in an area south of the town of Shibergan, in Jawzan province. Their convoy was attacked by unknown armed men.
“These staff members were simply doing their duty, selflessly trying to help and support the local community. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of our colleagues killed and those unaccounted for,” said Mr. Maurer.
As part of the global Red Cross Red Crescent network, the ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization. Their exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.
ICRC teams have been working in Afghanistan for decades—helping wounded and disabled people, supporting hospitals, making prison visits and helping detainees maintain contact with their families, monitoring the conduct of hostilities and preventing International Humanitarian Law violations, improving water and sanitation, promoting International Humanitarian Law, and supporting the Afghan Red Crescent.
“This is a despicable act. Nothing can justify the murder of our colleagues and dear friends,” said the head of the ICRC delegation in Afghanistan, Monica Zanarelli. “At this point, it’s premature for us to determine the impact of this appalling incident on our operations in Afghanistan. We want to collect ourselves as a team and support each other in processing this incomprehensible act and finding our two unaccounted for colleagues,” said Mrs. Zanarelli.
The global Red Cross Red Crescent network is mourning the loss of a team member in Syria, as well: a Syrian Red Crescent employee was killed during an attack on a Red Crescent distribution center in Hamadaniya, Aleppo. Seven other Syrian Red Crescent volunteers and staff were injured – three of them severely. Two Aleppo residents—who had come to the center to receive humanitarian aid—also died, and several others were injured.
The red cross, red crescent and red crystal emblems provide protection for military medical services and relief workers in armed conflicts. A deliberate attack on a person, equipment or a building carrying a protective emblem is a war crime under international law. The global Red Cross Red Crescent network reminds parties to all conflicts of their duty to respect and protect humanitarian workers and the right of people to receive humanitarian aid. Aid is not a target.
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Media: For further information, contact:
Thomas Glass, ICRC Kabul (English), tel: +93 (0) 729 140 510
Ramin Ayaz Ahmad, ICRC Kabul (Dari and Pashto), tel: +93 (0) 794 618 908
Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Geneva (English), tel: +41 79 251 9302
Marie-Claire Feghali, ICRC Geneva (English), tel: +41 79 536 92 31
Penny Sims IFRC Communications delegate (English), +963 959 999 853