UNAMA team moves out of Afghanistan to a safer destination
Photo Source: UNAMA
New York: International staff of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) have moved out of Kabul and begun working remotely from Almaty. “We thank the Government of Kazakhstan for the offer to host a temporary remote office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan [UNAMA],” Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, said.
The UN is projecting to allow up to about 100 personnel to operate out of Almaty. The office in Almaty will be staffed by a relatively small number of international personnel. “The safety and well-being of all our staff, national and international, is a matter of paramount importance to the UN,” Dujarric said.
Without disclosing any information “that may endanger colleagues”, Dujarric sought to assure that a significant amount of work is being undertaken specifically to safeguard the Afghan nationals who worked for UNAMA. He disclosed that Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, had been in touch with senior Taliban officials on the ground in Kabul.
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“First of all, I can tell you we are doing our utmost to safeguard our national staff and their dependents, whether that’s having those who will stay in country or those who may come out. The big difference between working for the United Nations and a nation is that we are not a nation, right? We are not a nation that issues visas. So, there are all sorts of administrative hurdles that have to be negotiated and discussed. But the national staff is very much on the forefront of what we are trying to do every day.And we’re continuing to explore every avenue possible to further support national personnel,” he added.
Offering further details, Dujarric said, “…as we have all seen, the scenes at the airport were rather chaotic. We had to bring in a plane from the outside. It took quite a bit of time and of work to coordinate with the parties on the ground, parties in the air, and others to ensure that this relocation could go smoothly. Discussions with the Kazakh authorities, [to] whom we are extremely grateful, were ongoing. They were finalized. And I can’t underscore our thanks to our friends in Almaty for having allowed us to open up this satellite office. A relocation is exactly that, it is a relocation. The office in Almaty is set up to host about 100 international staff, people who don’t need to be on location to do their work. It is a way of lightening the footprint for obvious… obvious reasons, so it is a relocation. They will go back when the, when we feel the situation allows it.”
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres had told the Security Council on August 16, 2021 that the United Nations presence in Afghanistan will adapt to the security situation. In light of the security and other constraints in Kabul and other parts of the country at the moment, it was decided to move a part of the UN staff out of the country. Personnel will return to Afghanistan as conditions permit.
“As we have also been making clear, the UN is committed to staying and delivering in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need. The majority of humanitarian personnel remain in Afghanistan, providing vital assistance to millions in need,” Dujarric clarified. According to him, the remote presence will provide close support to the UN family’s continuing work on the ground in Afghanistan.
“This is a temporary measure intended to enable the UN to keep delivering assistance to the people of Afghanistan with the minimum of disruption while, at the same time, reducing risk to UN personnel,” he said.
– global bihari bureau