The United Nations said on Thursday it would temporarily evacuate hundreds of its international staff from Afghanistan due to deteriorating security, a sharp blow for Western efforts to stabilise the country.
“Around 600 non-Afghan staff will be temporarily relocated," U.N. spokesman Dan McNorton told AFP, adding that “the only people who will remain are regarded as essential staff."
Some would be relocated to safer sites within Afghanistan and some withdrawn from the country, said Aleem Siddique, another U.N. spokesman, adding that the final breakdown had not been determined.
Taliban militants killed five foreign U.N. staff in an attack at their international guest house in the capital on Oct. 28.
"The United Nations is reducing the number of its international staff from 1,300 to 400, effective immediately," Siddique told Reuters, adding that the world body would determine how much staff were necessary to run on-going programs.
"We will be looking at bringing people back as soon as the security situation allows and secure accommodation is found," Siddique said. "Instead of having people dotted around the city, they will be consolidated."
A U.N. statement emailed to Reuters said it would not make details of the new measures public, adding: "It is expected that they will involve short-term relocations for some staff while additional security is being put in place."
We will be looking at bringing people back as soon as the security situation allows and secure accommodation is found
UN spokesman Aleem Siddique