Nonprofit Newswire | 6 Americans Among 10 Charity Workers Killed in Taliban Ambush

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August 7, 2010; Source: Los Angeles Times | Sometimes when we talk about nonprofits being on the frontlines, it really is the frontlines in very dangerous parts of the world.  In northern Afghanistan, six Americans and four others (two Afghan nationals, one Briton, and one German) working as a medical team for the nonprofit International Assistance Mission were killed by Taliban insurgents.  A Taliban spokesperson claimed that the victims were spies and Christian missionaries rather than a medical team.

According to IAM, a Christian NGO which operates eye clinics and hospitals, the medical team, led by an optometrist from Delmar, New York, was providing eye care to rural villagers.  A brief press release on the front page of the IAM website said that the eye camp team had been there at the invitation of communities in Nuristan and was on its return to Kabul when the incident occurred.  Although IAM’s list of core values is headed by “dependency on God,” the organization subscribes to the “Principles of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Response Programmes” which says the organization does not provide aid to further a particular religious or political viewpoint.

In 2009, 19 NGO staff people, all Afghan nationals were killed, down from 31 killed in 2008, all but six of whom were Afghan nationals.  The Afghan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) predicted there were “promising signs of regaining space and acceptance from Taliban insurgents,” though attacks on NGO workers from independent armed insurgents would possibly rise in 2010.  The deaths of NGO workers testify that the confident predictions about the Taliban were unfortunately optimistic.—Rick Cohen