Violence Forces the IRC to Suspend Programs in Western Afghanistan
The International Rescue Committee has temporarily suspended its programs in Herat in western Afghanistan following last week’s violent clashes that killed at least four people in the city.
“We are very concerned by the violence that erupted in Herat and we are hoping that the situation calms down soon so that we are able to resume our programs,” said Mark Bartoloni, director for IRC’s programs in Asia and the Middle East.
Offices belonging to several international organizations were looted and destroyed by supporters of Herat’s governor Ismael Khan following the dismissal of the governor by the Afghan president Hamid Karzai. The IRC’s office was spared in the rampage.
The unrest in Herat was described by the United Nations as the worst violence directed at international organisations since the Taliban were forced from power in 2001. The riots, as well as a surge in violence across the country, come as the people of Afghanistan are preparing for elections on October 9.
“We are very concerned about the security of our staff over the election period and will do everything we can to ensure their safety,” Bartolini said.