Ban rejects reports of UN withdrawal from Afghanistan
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rejected any notion that the United Nations is leaving Afghanistan, amid reports that the world body is pulling out of the country following the announcement that it will temporarily relocate some of its staff owing to security concerns, UN official website reported.
"Let me be crystal clear: we are not evacuating. We will not, cannot and must not be deterred. Our work will continue," Mr. Ban told reporters after briefing the Security Council in a closed-door meeting about the situation in Afghanistan.
The world body announced yesterday that it is taking immediate steps to strengthen security for UN employees in Afghanistan, in light of the 28 October attack on a guest house in Kabul that killed five UN staff members and injured nine others as well as "further ongoing threats."
The measures include the short-term relocation of some of the roughly 1,100 international staff to safer sites within Afghanistan, as well as to duty stations in the region. The UN has around 6,000 staff working across the country in total.
The Secretary-General, who visited Kabul on Monday in a show of solidarity, stated that no critical staff will be moved, and that the UN's work on humanitarian and development needs will continue as before.
"I was able to see for myself that the determination and commitment of our staff in Afghanistan remains strong," he stated, while adding that colleagues there will have to manage, temporarily, with less administrative support.
Mr. Ban said he plans to provide the General Assembly in the coming days with specific proposals regarding additional resources for strengthening security for UN staff and premises.
While in Kabul, the Secretary-General also met with President Hamid Karzai and former presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah. Both Mr. Ban and his Special Representative, Kai Eide, have emphasized the need for the formation of new Government that is composed of competent, reform-oriented personalities that can move the country forward, he said.
In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, which holds the rotating Council presidency for this month, Council members congratulated the Afghan people on their active engagement and participation in the elections and commended the efforts of those who worked to ensure a credible process.
"They called for the new Afghan Government to effectively address the issues facing the country, including security, good governance and the fight against corruption as well as economic recovery, improving the livelihood of its people, and the cross-cutting issue of counter-narcotics," said the statement.