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'Core' UN staff returning to Afghan city hit last week by riots

19 May 2005 With the situation “calmed” in Jalalabad after last week’s violent demonstrations and attacks on United Nations offices, the UN mission in Afghanistan today said it is sending back to the city a core group of essential international staff.

Following the protests last week, during which an explosive device was tossed into the UN compound, the UN relocated to the capital Kabul all its international staff based in Nangarhar province.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said an assessment mission to the region on Sunday found that the situation had calmed down.

“Local authorities have assured the UN that they will provide security measures for its staff, premises and operations. Investigations are ongoing on the consequences of last week’s attacks which damaged and destroyed several buildings of the UN, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other organizations,” a UNAMA spokesman, Richard Provencher, told reporters in Kabul.

Following consultations with the Ministry of Interior as well as with the Nangarhar authorities, UNAMA therefore decided yesterday to send back a core group of essential international staff from different UN agencies. Further returns of international staff will be organized if the situation remains calm and stable.

“Among other things, this has allowed the candidate nomination process in Jalalabad to resume, as the office had been closed since May 12,” said Mr. Provencher.

Meanwhile, the Mission also issued a statement saying it was deeply troubled by the abduction of an Italian aid worker.

CARE employee Clementina Cantoni is “an exemplary humanitarian aid worker who has devoted many years of her life to helping the poor and has spent three years in Afghanistan working with widows and children,” the statement said.

“UNAMA wishes for her speedy and safe release,” it said.

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