PRESS RELEASE

Kabul – 26 January 2018

We, the 61 undersigned National and International Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), members of Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR), condemn in the strongest terms the atrocious attack on NGO offices in Jalalabad (Nangarhar) on Wednesday 24 January. It has been reported that there is a loss of at least 7 lives, more than 31 people injured, including five children. We would like to pass our condolences to the families of the victims of this atrocious attack.

NGOs in Afghanistan are often the first line of response for those in need. In 2017, through the support of NGOs alongside other humanitarian actors, well over 3.4 million people across Afghanistan received food, water, shelter and other life-saving assistance to meet their most basic needs(1).

“It is of the utmost importance that NGOs are able to act in circumstances of extreme humanitarian need, including in situations of armed conflict, with the assurance that their personnel, their property, and their activities will not be directly or indirectly attacked,” states Fiona Gall, director of ACBAR.

Such an atrocious attack is a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. We therefore demand a rapid, independent and transparent investigation into how and why this incident occurred.

This is not an isolated incident. Attacks on humanitarian workers are a common occurrence in Afghanistan. Over the last year, there have been 156 attacks on aid workers committed by actors involved in the current conflict. This includes 17 aid workers who have been killed as they attempted to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance including food, safe drinking water and healthcare to those most in need.

Attacks on humanitarian actors are attacks on the people we are trying to serve. Ultimately, any attack, intimidation, violence or threat against aid workers will result in delays in aid implementation or even the withdrawal of aid altogether – negatively impacting the welfare of the most vulnerable people of Afghanistan.

The provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance is a neutral act, protected under International Humanitarian Law. We call on all parties to the Afghan conflict to respect the neutrality of NGOs, their staff and their facilities, as well as to respect International Humanitarian Law, which provides protection to aid workers and civilians.

“Across the world, the number of violent attacks against aid workers is increasing. It is taking place in a context of “normalization” of the use of violence against civilians and aid workers in conflicts settings. It is an overall erosion of respect humanity and humanitarian work”, says Kinga Komorowska (Country Director, Action Against Hunger).

Despite the United Nations Security Resolution 2175 (2014) condemning all attacks on aid workers, a culture of impunity continues to exist. Following discussions at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, as NGOs operating in Afghanistan, we re-emphasise the need for all actors to respect International Humanitarian Law and to condemn all attacks on aid workers and civilians. As a concrete commitment to the protection of all aid workers, we call upon the international system to explore legal and judicial mechanisms to ensure protection of our staff from violence, as well as accountability after violence has been perpetrated, with the introduction of a Special Representative for Strengthening the Protection of Aid Workers.

Concrete action is needed to ensure protection of all aid-workers as we, the NGO-community in Afghanistan continue in our work to support those most in need in Afghanistan.

1 – OCHA HRP 2017 3rd quarter review

Signatories:
AAA – Action Aid Afghanistan
AABRAR – Afghan Amputee Bicyclists For Rehabilitation And Recreation
AADRO – Afghan Australian Development and Rehabilitation Organization
ACF – Action Against Hunger
ACKU – Afghanistan Center at Kabul University
ACTED – Agence d’aide a la Cooperation Technique et au Development
ADA – Afghanistan Development Association
ADRA – Adventist Development and Relief Agency International
AfghanAid – Afghanaid
AFRANE – Amitie Franco-Afghane
AHDAA – Agency For Humanitarian and Development Assistance For Afghanistan
AHDS – Afghan Health and Development Services
ASAARO – Afghan Social And Agriculture Affairs Rehabilitation Organization
AWRC – Afghan Women’s Resource Center
CARE – Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere
CHA – Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance
CoAR – Coordination of Afghan Relief
Cordaid – Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid
CWW – Concern Worldwide
DACAAR – Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees
DAO – Development and Ability Organization
DCA – Dutch Committee for Afghanistan
DRC – Danish Refugee Council
FRDO – Female Rehabilitation And Development Organization
GERES – Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity
GNI – Good Neighbours International
GWO – Green Way Organization
HI – Handicap International
HIHAO – Hand In Hand Afghanistan Organization
IMC – International Medical Corps
INTERSOS – Intersos
IRC – International Rescue Committee
JUH – The Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe
JVC – Japan International Volunteer Center
LC – La Chaine de Espoir
MADERA – Mission d’ Aid au Development des Economies Rurales Programme Afghanistan
MCA – Mercy Corps Afghanistan
MEDAIR – MEDAIR
NAC – Norwegian Afghanistan Committee
OXFAM – Oxfam
PARSA – Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation and Support for Afghanistan
PIN – People In Need
PU-AMI – Première Urgence – Aide Medicale Internationale
RI – Relief International
RRAA – Rural Rehabilitation Association for Afghanistan
SCA – Swedish Committee for Afghanistan
SCI – Save the Children
SDO – Sanayee Development Organization
SERVE – Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises
SI – Solidarity International
SVA – Shanti Volunteer Association
TACT – Today’s Afghanistan Conciliation Trust
TCOW – The Children Of War
TdH – Terre des Hommes
TEO – Tashabos Educational Organization
THRA – Training Human Rights Association for Afghan Women
THT – The HALO Trust
WCC – War Child Canada
WF – Womanity Foundation
WHH – Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e.V.
ZOA – Zoa Refugee Care

Notes to Editors

All further enquiries to be directed to Fiona Gall, Director of ACBAR, phone: +93706602570, email: director@acbar.org;
Or Aynur Tekin, Advocacy Manager of ACBAR, phone: +93729129640, email: advocacymanager@acbar.org

Picture: A Terre des Hommes midwife provides health education to a pregnant woman in Afghanistan. ©Tdh / Sandra Calligaro.