MSF shocked by death of 5 staff in Afghanistan
3 June 2004
The names of the MSF staff members, as well as their nationalities and functions are as follows: Hélène de Beir: Belgian national, Project Coordinator Willem Kwint: Dutch national, Logistician Egil Tynaes: Norwegian national, Medical Doctor Fasil Ahmad: Afghan national, Translator Besmillah: Afghan national, Driver They departed from Khairkhana at 15:00 hours in a Toyota Landcruiser. Radio contact should have been established at 15:45 hours, but this contact was not established. Two cars were sent to check for the vehicle, one departing from Khairkhana, the second from Qual-I-Now. The car was located at approximately 1720, approximately 25 minutes from Khairkhana in the direction of Qala-I-Naw. Initial reports from local elders suggested a tragedy had occurred. Through the efforts of the local community the car was brought back to the MSF compound in Khairkhana. The car was back in the compound by 19:45 hours and the remaining four expatriate team-members and our national staff team confirmed the shooting of our five colleagues. The condition of the car was described as having been shot through the front windscreen, through the front passenger window and through the back windscreen. Further there was shrapnel embedded in the side of the car indicating a grenade had been detonated. It is impossible for us to give any further details as we simply do not know anything more about what happened. Nor do we know who is behind the killings nor the motives. We will miss Helene, Pim, Egil, Fasil Ahmad and Besmillah very much and again extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families and friends. Today our thoughts are with the families of those killed, but also with the people of Afghanistan whose ability to access health-care and other humanitarian assistance is becoming increasingly compromised. In the coming weeks we will analyse this event in depth, but for the moment our priority is to take care of those most affected by this tragedy. For the time being our activities will be suspended nation-wide, except for life-saving activities. The expatriate teams of the Dutch section are currently moving to Kabul and national staff from Khairkhana are being moved to a safe location. They will all remain in these locations for the time-being. MSF has been working in Badghis province since 1999. We have been in Khairkhana since 2001, running an outpatient department. In the first four months of this year we had 6,500 consultations. Recently we started a tuberculosis treatment programme, currently we have 45 patients undergoing treatment for TB and expansion of the number of patients under treatment is in process. Two weeks ago the community and MSF celebrated the opening of a maternal and child health facility. MSF in Afghanistan is working in 12 provinces with around 80 expats and around 1,400 national staff. Our activities range from primary health care to support to provincial and regional hospitals. We also provide specialised treatment programmes such as tuberculosis and mental health. We have been working in Afghanistan since 1979.