UN to withdraw 600 staff from Afghanistan after Kabul attack

After attacks in Afghanistan that killed five UN workers last week, the international body announced it is pulling out 600 of its foreign workers while it builds a fortified complex.

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The United Nations has announced that it will temporarily remove 600 of its foreign workers from Afghanistan. The decision comes as a result of last week's deadly attack against the international organization that killed five UN employees and three Afghans.

UN officials say that the employees will return once the organization is able to construct a properly fortified compound to house all its employees. Those who remain in Afghanistan will stay on a police-training compound operated by the European Union. Previously, many UN workers had been living in approximately 90 guesthouses spread out across Kabul.

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The UN is also establishing an Afghan office in Dubai, which may indicate that not all employees will return, reports Al Jazeera.

The delivery of aid or other UN services will not be affected by the move, say UN officials, as local nationals deliver all humanitarian supplies. Of the 6,700 UN employees working in Afghanistan, 5,600 are local nationals.

Despite reassurances that the UN is not pulling out of Afghanistan, the Geneva Lunch, an online newspaper for the international community, reports that the UN special representative in Kabul, Kai Eide, has offered a stern warning to the Hamid Karzai government amid ailing security conditions in Afghanistan.

Ban Ki-Moon has criticized Afghan and NATO security forces for taking more than an hour to respond to last week's attack, reports the Times of London. At a meeting of the UN General Assembly, Ban told of how two UN security guards armed only with pistols fought off heavily armed attackers. Despite repeatedly asking for assistance from local and NATO forces, there was no response from either party for an hour. NATO and Afghan forces, however, deny that they failed to respond in an effective manner.

This week UN officials also suspended much of their work in the tribal areas of Pakistan that border Afghanistan following increasing attacks in the region. Following the attack in Kabul, Mr. Ban has asked an additional $75 million to improve the UN's security and crisis preparation in Afghanistan, reports the Canadian Broadcast Corporation.

The attack last week came perilously close to causing the UN to call for a general evacuation of all its employees in Afghanistan, reports the Guardian. One UN employee told the British newspaper that another attack or the death of a few more UN workers could force everyone in the Afghanistan operation to "pack up our bags and leave."

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