Afghanistan: UN relocating Sri Lankan staffers | Sunday Observer

Afghanistan: UN relocating Sri Lankan staffers

22 August, 2021

The UN office in Sri Lanka reiterated that the organisation placed the highest priority on the ‘’Safety and security’’ of its staff, when asked by the Sunday Observer of the situation of Sri Lankan staff serving with the UN in Afghanistan.

The UN is relocating some of its staff in Afghanistan, to nearby countries from where it can continue its humanitarian mission in Afghanistan but most are remaining inside to serve the millions of needy people especially women and children, the UN mission in Kabul said in a twitter message.

The Foreign Ministry said it was aware of 43 Sri Lankans in Afghanistan at the time the Taliban forces seized power after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday. The Afghan President is currently in the UAE.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the Sri Lankans in Afghanistan were mostly working for the United Nations, international organisations and private companies.

“In the immediate period ahead, as it is its standard policy, the UN is taking all possible measures to safeguard its personnel, and to this end the UN cannot release more details concerning internal security arrangements,” the UN office in Sri Lanka said in a statement to the Sunday Observer.

“We understand from our headquarters that the United Nations intends to remain in Afghanistan to continue supporting its people during these uncertain times,” the statement added. However, it said none of the staff members had their families with them. “Afghanistan is a non-family duty station, therefore, none of their family members were with them.”

It also confirmed that the Foreign Ministry was in touch with the Sri Lankans remaining in Afghanistan. The UN office in Sri Lanka was also liaising with the authorities “in case any assistance was needed.”

Thousands of foreigners in Afghanistan and locals who helped the US administration stormed the Kabul airport to flee the country which was taken over by Taliban fighters. The US withdrew its troops after claiming that two decades of efforts had failed to set up democratic governance in Afghanistan, foreign media reported.

The CNN reported 12 people, who were trying to find some passage out, have been killed, in and around Kabul airport since Sunday. Some were shot dead and others had fallen off aircraft.

The Foreign Ministry, in a media release stated, “It was ready to help the Sri Lankans, if they wish to return to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan mission is operating from a hotel and is manned by a local staffer,” the release stated, adding that there were no Sri Lankan staffers at the Embassy at present.

The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau was also in possession of details of some of the workers in Afghanistan.