Former UN employees have sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlining the risks and dangers UN-affiliated personnel face in Afghanistan, according to a former employee familiar with the letter.
In the letter, the former employees note they’re “gravely concerned about the safety of our colleagues and friends who are at risk,” especially after receiving “disturbing reports of the Taliban raiding homes, beating people for affiliation with international organizations and requesting meetings for ‘letters of forgiveness.’”
The letter cites UN protocol, which outlines the organization’s duty and responsibility to individuals it recruits and their families should they be endangered because of their work for the UN. The letter then directly notes that “locally-recruited personnel and their family members are indeed endangered as a direct consequence of their employment by organizations of the United Nations common system.”
“They should not be asked to sacrifice their lives and safety in order to accomplish this. It would be much safer for them to continue their work from outside of the country,” the letter concludes.
There are an estimated 3,000 UN staff in Afghanistan. Most are local Afghans, and about 10% are women.
The UN has previously stated about 100 international staff has left the country to work elsewhere.
Guterres held a virtual town hall Wednesday morning including UN staff in Afghanistan to address ongoing safety concerns, according to a statement by UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“We are continuing to look at possible relocations of international staff, also, obviously, of national staff that are at risk. But I think it bears saying again that the UN presence in Afghanistan is … the UN is present in Afghanistan and will remain in Afghanistan.” Dujarric said during the discussion.