The International Committee of the Red Cross will “drastically” cut back its operations in Afghanistan following attacks that have killed seven of its staff this year, the aid group said on Monday.
The announcement underlines the deteriorating security for aid groups in Afghanistan, where the ICRC has been operating for more than 30 years and has been running its fourth biggest humanitarian program.
“Exposure to risk has become our greatest challenge and concern,” Monica Zanarelli, head of the ICRC in Afghanistan, told a news conference in the capital, Kabul.
“We have no choice but to drastically reduce our presence in Afghanistan,” she said, adding that the decision would particularly affect operations in the north, where facilities in Kunduz, Faryab, and Balkh provinces would be closed or downsized.
Red Cross officials said the assessments are ongoing and could not say how many of its 1,800 staff would be affected.
The Red Cross had already warned of the threat to its operations following a series of attacks over the past year.