Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (9 June) on the attack committed on 8 June 2021 against the demining organisation HALO Trust in Afghanistan.
The German Government most vehemently condemns the horrendous attack on a camp of the HALO Trust landmine-clearance project in the Baghlan province of Afghanistan. Current reports indicate that 10 people were killed in the attack; another 16 people were wounded, some seriously.
Our thoughts and sympathy are with the victims, their families and their colleagues. This was a cowardly attack on people who every day put their life on the line to eliminate the horrible legacy of war, so that all people can return to a normal life. This attack was an attack against humanity.
The German Government calls on all actors in Afghanistan to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to protect humanitarian personnel. The Government of Afghanistan must do everything in its power to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel.
However, it is also clear that the people of Afghanistan urgently need a humanitarian ceasefire now. A ceasefire is the only way to create the conditions based on which such crimes can be prevented in the future and so that those responsible can be held to account.
The German Government will remain engaged around the world to protect humanitarian space, on the basis of the Humanitarian Call for Action that we initiated together with France in 2019.
HALO is one of the most important partners of the Federal Foreign Office in the sphere of humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance. In 2020, the German Government provided more than 10 million euro for the NGO’s projects. 3.5 million euro of this funding went to the project in Afghanistan that was targeted by the attack. The project is working to clear mines and ordnance in nine provinces. HALO places great emphasis on conducting its activities with local staff. In this way, the organisation helps to strengthen local structures and to transfer knowledge.
Afghanistan has been a humanitarian hotspot for decades. Currently, some 18 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. That is just under half of the population. The situation has become increasingly severe in recent years. In 2020, the German Government made available around 30 million euro in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
In the past years, what is referred to as the humanitarian space has come under increasing pressure. Attacks on humanitarian aid workers are on the rise, and humanitarian actors’ room for manoeuvre is being increasingly restricted. This is why the German and French Governments joined forces and in 2019 issued the Humanitarian Call for Action, which calls on all countries to respect and foster international humanitarian law and the humanitarian principles. To date, 47 countries, as well as the European Union, have signed the Humanitarian Call for Action.