U.N. memo details crisis of morale in Afghanistan

United Nations staff that left Afghanistan because of worsening security are set to begin returning to Kabul by March 8, according to an internal U.N. memo obtained by Matthew Lee, the U.N. blogger at Inner City Press. The U.N. evacuated several hundred staff out the country following an Oct. 28 Taliban attack on the Bakhtar ...

By , a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy.

United Nations staff that left Afghanistan because of worsening security are set to begin returning to Kabul by March 8, according to an internal U.N. memo obtained by Matthew Lee, the U.N. blogger at Inner City Press.

The U.N. evacuated several hundred staff out the country following an Oct. 28 Taliban attack on the Bakhtar Guest House, which housed U.N. staff. Five U.N. workers were killed in the attack, the worst in the U.N.'s history in Afghanistan, triggering a major review of U.N. security policy.

The memo says that 30 secure new housing units will be ready by the end of the month, and that an additional 50 will be prepared by April. The memo also states that the U.N. mission in Afghanistan is struggling to overcome a crisis of morale following the country's controversial elections and a slew of staff defections.

United Nations staff that left Afghanistan because of worsening security are set to begin returning to Kabul by March 8, according to an internal U.N. memo obtained by Matthew Lee, the U.N. blogger at Inner City Press.

The U.N. evacuated several hundred staff out the country following an Oct. 28 Taliban attack on the Bakhtar Guest House, which housed U.N. staff. Five U.N. workers were killed in the attack, the worst in the U.N.’s history in Afghanistan, triggering a major review of U.N. security policy.

The memo says that 30 secure new housing units will be ready by the end of the month, and that an additional 50 will be prepared by April. The memo also states that the U.N. mission in Afghanistan is struggling to overcome a crisis of morale following the country’s controversial elections and a slew of staff defections.

"At the beginning of the year with the 2010 budget coming into effect, UNAMA had a vacancy rate of 44%," the memo stated. "The situation had reached a point where the SRSG felt obliged to alert the Security Council that if the staffing back log were to continue, UNAMA would not be able to implement key elements of its mandate."

Most of the new housing will be situated in the main U.N. compound some 20 minutes from the center of Kabul. Although the new arrangement is designed to enhance security, the memo acknowledged that housing so many U.N. officials outside the center of Kabul would increase the risk of attack during their commute to town.

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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