Afghanistan: ICRC commitment remains solid despite attack

04-06-2013 Interview

On Wednesday 29 May 2013, an attack on the ICRC’s offices in Jalalabad left one of our guards dead and three other staff injured. This was the first attack of its kind in the country. Gherardo Pontrandolfi, ICRC head of delegation in Kabul, talks about the attack and its implications.

Do you know who is responsible for the attack?

No. We are looking into that and we have launched a thorough review, with the aim of discovering why the attack took place. That involves talking to as many people and groups as possible.

The Taliban have issued a statement denying responsibility. What is your reaction?

We are aware of this statement and are factoring it into our analysis.

Are you suspending your operations in Afghanistan?

We are not suspending all operations in Afghanistan. We are still gathering information and completing our initial analysis, so it is premature to say what effect this incident will have on our work in Afghanistan.

Across the country, we will be maintaining physical rehabilitation services, medical activities, efforts to maintain contact between separated family members, and certain other activities.

In Jalalabad, we have closed our office while continuing to run physical rehabilitation services at our centre there.

Will the attack have an effect on staffing?

We have temporarily withdrawn some non-Afghan staff as a precautionary measure, and of course that will have an impact on operations.

What is the longer-term future of ICRC operations in Afghanistan?

The ICRC remains committed to providing protection and humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict, while weighing this against the security of our staff. Once we have completed a thorough review of the incident we will be able to determine the level of humanitarian services we will be able to provide around the country.

How are the staff reacting to the attack?

Everyone is very affected by the death of our colleague Abdul Basher Khan. Our current focus is on his family. We have been providing them with all necessary support, both financial and psychological, and will continue to do so.


To honour the memory of Abdul Bashir Khan, the ICRC guard killed in the Jalalabad attack, the ICRC will close all of its offices in Afghanistan for one day on 6 June 2013 and will carry out no operations on that day.


Gherardo Pontrandolfi 

Gherardo Pontrandolfi

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