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Red Cross reduces presence in Afghanistan due to poor security
Last Updated: 2017-10-10 09:06 | Xinhua
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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday said that after a series of attacks on its staff, it has taken the decision to reduce its presence in Afghanistan.

"Following intensive discussions, together with the organization's headquarters in Geneva, the ICRC has reached the conclusion that there is no other choice but to drastically reduce its presence and activities in Afghanistan, in particular in the north of the country," the ICRC said in a statement.

"Since December 2016, the ICRC has been directly targeted in northern Afghanistan three times, including in what we considered one of our safest facilities, the rehabilitation centre in Mazar-i-Sharif," it said.

Monica Zanarelli, head of delegation for the ICRC in Afghanistan, said that "these incidents have affected not only the ICRC in Afghanistan, but the organization as a whole."

According to the latest statement, the ICRC's offices of Maimana and Kunduz will be closed, while its sub-delegation in Mazar-i-Sharif will be seriously downsized. The rehabilitation centre in Mazar-i-Sharif will remain open, while the ICRC assesses the ability of partners to take over the running of the centre.

In the rest of the country, activities are also being reviewed, it added.

"This is a difficult moment for the ICRC and the staff, after 30 years of continuous presence in the country, we are reducing our presence and operations, but let's be very clear, we are not leaving Afghanistan," said Zanarelli.

In December 2016, an ICRC staff member was abducted in Kunduz province, and released four weeks later. This incident was followed by the brutal killing of six staff and the abduction of two others in Jawzjan province.

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