Afghanistan - IOM staff in Afghanistan are returning to work after Friday’s terrifying attack on the IOM compound in the capital Kabul, which claimed the lives of three Afghans and left three international staff wounded, one seriously.
At a press conference yesterday, IOM’s Chief of Mission Richard Danziger praised the response of Afghan security forces, as well as the professionalism and calmness of his staff in the wake of the attack.
Danziger — who was en route back to Kabul when the attack happened — told international media "the police and our guards held their ground and fought for two hours until they found a time when they could grab our staff and take them out of the compound."
His deputy, Enira Krdzalic, described the ordeal of the ten foreigners who took refuge in a strong room when gunmen entered the compound after a series of explosions. "Personally and on behalf of my colleagues I would like to pass sincere appreciation to the Afghan national police. They managed to get us out, and they managed to help us with our colleague who was badly injured. They fought for our lives — otherwise the damage would have been more severe. Me and all my colleagues are still under shock and we are trying to recover, so it is very emotional to go through those few hours."
The attackers used suicide bombs, grenades and machine guns during the attack, which lasted over six hours and ended when all the attackers were killed.
"It was very confusing in the strong-room," added Danziger. "There was one badly injured colleague who they were trying to stop going into shock. There was a lot of smoke. If they had stayed in there any longer, there was a strong likelihood that they would have been suffocated."
The IOM staff member, who suffered severe burns from a grenade blast, was promptly evacuated and is receiving treatment in Europe.
IOM Director General William Lacy Swing and his team have been in constant contact with the Afghanistan mission staff since the first moments. He described the attack as "heinous", and added "our highest priority is on treating the injured and ensuring staff receive the best possible support."
IOM in Afghanistan is assisting in the war-torn country’s recovery through humanitarian activities benefiting each and every Afghan. The organization employs 22 international staff from many nationalities and 146 national staff who provide assistance to the beneficiaries in a humane and dignified manner. Over the course of its 23 years in Afghanistan, IOM has provided assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced Afghans.
IOM is not affiliated with any government agency or non-governmental group; its work is humanitarian in nature, including response to natural disasters and other emergencies with life-saving activities. Founded in 1951, IOM today implements 2,500 projects in more than 400 locations worldwide. It works for the benefit of refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons and also on building the capacity of governments to manage migration. Its 9,000 staff members represent more than 100 nationalities.
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