Mission East's Afghan staff are safe
Mission East's more than 100 local staff in Afghanistan are staying at home while guards look after the organization's four offices. The programs are on hold but resume as soon as the Taliban can guarantee security.
The Allies have withdrawn from Afghanistan, while the Taliban have taken over one provincial capital after another. On Sunday, the Islamist movement took control of the Afghan capital, Kabul. The four cities where the aid organization Mission East has an office are also occupied by the Taliban.
It leaves the country in deep crisis, and the work of NGOs in total insecurity.
Fortunately, Mission East can report that all of the organization's employees are safe. They are staying at home and awaiting the situation. Only guards and security personnel are left in the offices to protect materials and equipment. Foreign staff work outside the country's borders.
‘We are ready to engage’
The local employees are worried but determined to continue the humanitarian work as soon as the opportunity opens up, says Mission East's general secretary Betina Gollander-Jensen.
- Our more than 100 local employees stay on the ground and follow developments closely. We are ready to engage when the situation allows and security is guaranteed.
She points out that Mission East works on the basis of the humanitarian guidelines.
- This means that we work with all parties to serve the people, as long as the humanitarian principles are complied and secure access to the local areas is provided.
‘We demand security, access and respect’
Employee safety is our top priority, adds international manager Peter Drummond Smith:
- The most important thing is that all our staff are safe. They stay at home and work as best they can from home. Here they stay until the situation has calmed down.
Mission East has been providing relief and development in Afghanistan for 20 years - just as long as the Western Allies have been operating in the country. Although the Allies withdraw, the aid organization remains in the country to serve the local population - also under the Taliban:
- We are currently in discussions with the Taliban on security and the continuation of our programs. We demand full and secure access to the communities in which we work. And that our independence and neutrality are respected, he points out.
‘We are ready to provide emergency aid’
Mission East anticipates that the humanitarian crisis will grow in the coming months and is therefore seeking funds to help as many of the internally displaced Afghans as possible.
- Our goal is only to respond to the needs. We focus on the individual human being. And we know that the Taliban want us to start our programs again. But we can only do that if they guarantee security and access and respect for our neutrality, concludes Peter Drummond Smith.
Secretary General Betina Gollander-Jensen already sent a message on social media on Sunday:
"Our thoughts are with the Afghan people these hours. Mission East is still present around the country and ready to provide relief when the parties to the conflict request it."