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8/11/04 - AFGHAN SECURITY - 2004-08-11


Doctors Without Borders is leaving Afghanistan. The Nobel prize-winning humanitarian organization says that it is ending its program there because of security concerns. Kenny Gluck, a Doctors Without Borders official, says the decision to leave Afghanistan was a difficult one. Five of the group’s staff members were murdered in June. Their attackers have not yet been brought to justice.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says that the U.S. hopes Doctors Without Borders will reconsider its decision:

“They’ve been there for twenty-four years. They enjoy wide international respect precisely because of the risks they’ve been willing to take and the sacrifices they’ve made to end human suffering.”

Mr. Ereli says that the deliberate targeting of aid workers has a purpose, which is to stop progress in Afghanistan:

“We are committed, I think the international community is committed to providing security in Afghanistan. We’ve done a lot of work in terms of training and standing up Afghan police and military forces. Clearly, there are actions that are reprehensible and that are targeted at aid workers, but the work they’re doing is important and we hope that they can find a way to stay.”

The U.S., says State Department deputy spokesman Ereli, is “committed to staying the course in Afghanistan”:

“There’s important progress being made. It’s important to look...just the numbers in the registration process. We’re now up to over eight-million registered voters, forty percent of whom are women, in anticipation of Afghanistan’s first presidential elections.... There has been...some violence. There have been disruptions. But the lesson to take away from this is that the will of the people won’t be frustrated.”

“This fight against...those who are trying to cause instability in Afghanistan will go on for a long time,” says Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But, says Mr. Karzai, “it will not...stop Afghanistan from achieving what it wants to achieve.”

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