An attack on Save the Children’s Jalalabad, Afghanistan facility has reportedly left three dead and 20 injured. Multiple reports have described the attack, which took place Wednesday morning local time, as targeted with the Islamic State claiming responsibility. Reuters is reporting that the attack began as a suicide bombing and was followed by gunmen.
Carolyn Miles, president and CEO, confirmed in a statement that three staff members were killed in the attack. All other staff, four of them injured, have been rescued from the office. Those injured are receiving medical attention.
“Save the Children condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms,” said Miles. “We are shocked and appalled at the violence, carried out against our staff in Afghanistan who are dedicated humanitarians, committed to improving the lives and wellbeing of millions of children across the country. We are doing everything we can to ensure all of our staff get the support they need in the aftermath of this devastating incident.”
Save the Children has been working in Afghanistan since 1976 and its work reaches nearly 1.4 million Afghan children. In an earlier statement, Miles said that all programs in Afghanistan have been temporarily suspended and offices have been closed.
An organization spokesperson told The NonProfit Times that additional information relating to the nature of the attack and future steps by the organization were not immediately available.
Save the Children has a presence in numerous Middle Eastern nations including Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Syria, according to the organization’s website. Last year, efforts in Afghanistan, among other things, helped support over 300,000 children facing crisis and helped more than 22,000 families feed their children. The organization has also spearheaded a child sponsorship program in Afghanistan since 2006. The program aims to, with the help of sponsors, provide children with aid in education and health programming.
Violence, particularly against westerners, has intensified in recent years in Afghanistan, according to John Bradley, who launched The Lamia Afghan Foundation with his wife, Jan, nine years ago after retiring from the United States Air Force. The organization has provided 3.5 million pounds of supplies and built seven schools for girls in that span. Bradley said that he’s been to Afghanistan 12 times, seven in a humanitarian capacity, but has not gone in four years — opting to send supplies and dollars to construct schools to trusted partners. Threats against and kidnappings involving westerners are not only up, but Afghans who are seen with westerners are also placed in jeopardy, he said.
“I feel horrible about what’s going on with the attack,” Bradley said, adding that a friend of his was murdered in Kabul several years ago for providing Afghans medical aid. “Goodness, a nonprofit . . . All these attacks are horrible. Nonprofits trying to help people. Doctors trying to help people. It’s crazy.”
Bradley said it has become more difficult to fundraise for new schools for young women in Afghanistan, American donors feeling fatigued after years of reading about Afghani conflicts. Those 40 years old and younger only really know Afghanistan as a country at war, he said, but he said that he hoped that such news would not lead to Americans wiping their hands of the country.
“I want the American people to not give up on Afghanistan,” he said. “There are good young people who need our thoughts and help and prayers and support. I’d love for them to have a better life.”