The CEO of the mine-clearing charity HALO Trust has described as “genuinely horrific” the June 8 attack on its staff in Baghlan, Afghanistan, that left 10 people dead and 16 wounded.
James Cowan described details of the attack and said it was the most serious incident to have hit the organization since its creation in 1988.
“We could take note of this incident and leave,” Cowan said, before adding: “We’re going to stay. We are there for the people of Afghanistan and we still have a job to be done.” Credit: The HALO Trust via Storyful
JAMES COWAN: Good morning, everyone. I'd like to make a statement about the events in Afghanistan last night. At 10 to 10:00 local time, a group of armed men entered a HALO camp in Baghlan province and went bed to bed murdering members of The HALO Trust. In total, 10 of our staff were killed and a further 16 were wounded. This is the most serious incident that The HALO Trust has endured in its existence since it came into being in Afghanistan in 1988.
I know that the thoughts of all 10,000 members of staff of The HALO Trust worldwide will be with the families of those who died last night and indeed of those of the wounded. Each one of those unnamed young men was a member of a family, was a father, or a brother, or a son. And the hole they have left in The HALO Trust is huge.
What took place last night was genuinely horrific. The HALO Trust is a humanitarian organization. We've worked in Afghanistan since 1988. We have 2 and 1/2 thousand staff. Every day, those 2 and 1/2 thousand people, men and women, go out to help Afghans. They are Afghans. Every single one of them is a local member of staff. They risk their lives clearing landmines. And now they've given their lives to murder.
We could take note of this incident and leave. We could be fearful of what is happening in Afghanistan. But we were there before 9/11, a full decade before. We've been through all the ups and downs of life and death in Afghanistan. And now as the international community prepares to leave, we're going to stay. We are there for the people of Afghanistan. And we still have a job to be done.
Many of the young men who died last night were Hazara. The whole purpose of The HALO Trust is to employ people of all communities, of all ethnicities. We are there, not just for one group, but for everyone. And we will continue to do our work.