In a troubling development, members of the International Assistance Mission (IAM), a Swiss-registered non-governmental organization (NGO), have been detained by Taliban authorities in Afghanistan. The group reported that 18 of its staff members, including one foreign national, were taken from their office in Ghor province and transported to the capital city, Kabul.
This incident comes on the heels of previous detentions by the Taliban. On September 3, two Afghan staff members and one US national from IAM’s Ghor office were apprehended. Subsequently, on September 13, an additional 15 Afghan staff members from the same office were detained.
As of now, the Taliban authorities have not provided any official comments or explanations regarding these detentions.
IAM has a longstanding presence in Afghanistan, with operations dating back to 1966. The organization has been dedicated to providing essential assistance in the areas of health and education. Importantly, IAM has maintained a commitment to impartiality, ensuring that aid is extended without discrimination based on political or religious beliefs.
However, the situation in Afghanistan has grown increasingly complex since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021. The Taliban has instituted a series of stringent restrictions on the population, including prohibitions on women working for NGOs and the United Nations. These restrictions extend to teenage girls and women being barred from attending schools and universities.
The detentions of IAM staff members raise concerns about the safety and security of humanitarian workers in Afghanistan. NGOs have played a crucial role in providing much-needed assistance to the Afghan people, and any disruptions in their operations could have far-reaching humanitarian consequences.
The international community continues to monitor the situation closely and awaits further information regarding the detained IAM staff members. The incident underscores the challenges faced by both NGOs and the Afghan population as they navigate the evolving landscape in Afghanistan.