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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-317833 Afghanistan / Aid
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=7/28/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE= AFGHANISTAN AID (L)

NUMBER=2-317833

BYLINE= MICHAEL KITCHEN

DATELINE= ISLAMABAD

CONTENT=

HEADLINE= Doctors Without Borders To Leave Afghanistan over Security Problems

VOICED AT:

INTRO: A Nobel Prize-winning aid group is pulling its staff out of Afghanistan after two decades of work there, citing security problems. VOA's Michael Kitchen reports from Islamabad, the group, Doctors Without Borders is also criticizing the involvement in humanitarian work by the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan.

TEXT: The medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday it is suspending indefinitely its Afghan operations in response to the killing of five of its staff last month.

The three foreign and two Afghan workers died in a road ambush in northwest Afghanistan, a normally safe part of the country.

The group expressed disappointed with a subsequent Afghan government investigation into the incident.

// OPT //

Conditions for relief workers in Afghanistan continue to grow more dangerous, as anti-government insurgents seek to disrupt aid flows, especially at a time when the country is preparing for its first post-war election.

Paul Stromberg is a repatriation coordinator for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

/// STROMBERG ACT ///

"Certainly the security situation has deteriorated significantly this year. All aid workers are in a sense caught up in that."

/// END ACT /// // END OPT //

Doctors Without Borders also renewed complaints that the U.S.-led military coalition, helping provide security and reconstruction assistance in

Afghanistan, is causing an indirect threat to aid groups.

In May, the group had said the military's relief activities, through its so-called Provincial Reconstruction Units, are an attempt "to usurp and misrepresent the provision of humanitarian aid."

It said that by blurring the line between military and relief work, the U.S. military is making aid workers a target for attacks by those opposed to the military presence.

Speaking Wednesday, U.S. military spokesman Major Jon Siepmann defended the coalition's humanitarian work, saying it is as vital as the military's efforts to provide security.

/// SIEPMANN ACT ///

"There is a great international effort here on all fronts, military being one part of that. But certainly the rebuilding effort, from our standpoint, is equally as important as the military effort."

/// END ACT ///

But Major Siepmann would not comment directly on the decision by Doctors Without Borders to leave Afghanistan. (SIGNED)

NEB/HK/MK/SP



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