Some aid organizations, facing attacks and threats from resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, are retreating from portions of the country.
Mercy Corps, a Portland, Oregon-based relief and development agency, disclosed in April that one of its Afghan staff members had been shot to death in November. Mercy Corps is pulling workers out of the Taliban's heartland in southern Afghanistan. Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, and other organizations are also pulling out of especially dangerous areas.
An escalating guerrilla war threatens President Hamid Karzai's U.S.-backed government. Mercy Corps managers say Taliban and Al Qaeda forces are targeting Western aid workers.
"They've extended this conflict that they have with the coalition and with the Karzai government to include international organizations, which is a new and disturbing twist," said Jim White, Mercy Corps' South Asia regional director. "We're having to substantially downsize."
The loss of the Afghan staffer is the fifth death of a foreign employee in Mercy Corps' 24-year history. The organization has never lost a U.S. staff member abroad.
The Mercy Corps staffer was a veterinarian who was gunned down on his motorcycle November 8 after leaving a village where he had treated some sheep. On March 27, a Taliban soldier shot and killed another aid worker, Ricardo Munguia, an International Red Cross water engineer from El Salvador. Taliban gunmen had told the 39-year-old's Afghan coworkers they would be killed if they continued working as "slaves" of Karzai and the United States.
Rebels have threatened Doctors Without Borders' Afghan staff near Pakistan. The organization evacuated its 10 non-Afghan workers from the border area and from Kandahar. It also removed its ...1
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