Irish leader of World Food Programme in Afghanistan vows to stay in country

The Donegal-born leader of the World Food Programme in Afghanistan, Mary Ellen McGroarty, has vowed to continue her work in that country and has said that she will not be leaving.

It was a priority for the World Food Programme and the United Nations to stay in Afghanistan, she told RTÉ radio’s Today show.

“We’re closely monitoring the situation, we’re very conscious of the rising needs of Afghanistan.”

There were mounting humanitarian and mounting shelter needs, she added.

The World Food Programme had been able to resume its operations in the regions where the Taliban had already taken over. Their work was based on the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence, she said.

“We must have unimpeded humanitarian access.”

All the statements from the Taliban to date were that the humanitarian community and the UN were not targets, she said, but the World Food Programme would continue to assess the situation.

“Our priority is to deliver services safely to the people and to make sure our staff are safe.”

Ms McGroarty said her organisation had spoken to the young woman with whom they worked, they were all working from home where they could, keeping a low profile. “We will let them stay there until it’s safe.”

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