Anatomy of a kidnapping

poppy

I started by writing of how the French aid worker was kidnapped in Kabul last week, but have just deleted it. Working for a French organisation with connections to those affected, I’ve heard little else recently, apart from the plans of several other small French NGOs to repatriate their expatriate staff, and there’s no need to repeat the details. Needles to say, it isn’t a fun story, and it hasn’t been the best of weeks. It’s been a fucking terrible week for some.

Though a good one for others: two journalists who had been kidnapped, one of whom was taken a little way out of Kabul three weeks ago, have both been released. We had heard about it in Kabul, but there was no mention of it in the international media. As is often the case with kidnappings, they are not reported to try and aid the negotiations. So it was a surprise when the most recent case became headline news within hours. Judging by the progress of the story throughout the day it seemed like someone in Paris must have released the identity of the kidnapped man.

There’s a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez about kidnappings in Columbia, but it’s years since I read it and I don’t remember it being particularly good. Not sure why I’m mentioning it actually, but my mind’s wondering a little this evening.

It’s been hard to concentrate. I have two projects I need to complete before the end of the year and both now seem like they might be scuppered by separate security incidents in the provinces. One should be OK but is impossible to plan for with a high degree of uncertainty about weather, flights, budgets and the rotation of the planets. The other I could remotely manage, but that means sending one of my Afghan colleagues to a region there’s not a cat in hells chance I’m going to, and neither of us would feel so happy about that.

I think the decision of some NGOs to evacuate staff isn’t a particularly good one, but at the same time am not that sure how much useful work I can do in current conditions. When I arrived back in Afghanistan, I half had it mind that when it got to the stage where I could no longer walk in the streets, then that would be the time to pack it in and go home. With new security rules in place it’s got to that point, but I don’t feel like leaving yet. Just feel frustrated and dis-empowered, which makes me feel determined not to be beaten by these bastards with the guns, and rather tired.

 

4 Responses to “Anatomy of a kidnapping”

  1. transitionland Says:

    The decisions being taken by many organizations to either downscale or suspend their work are very disappointing indeed. I was supposed to be headed to Kabul myself in a few weeks, but the recent round of kidnappings and killings of foreigners and of ISAF fuck-ups have ruled that out, even though I made it clear I was still up for going. I remember when the IRC suspended its work a few months back after four of its staff were murdered. I thought that was a bad idea, too, but was a bit encouraged by seeing IRC job postings for Afghanistan on ReliefWeb again recently. Looks like at least that good organization will be back. But ugh, depressing times overall.

  2. Kevin Says:

    Harry, I’d urge you not to let your ego influence your decision to stay or leave. Consider it a cold, hard, cost/benefit problem. Does the benefit of your staying outweigh the risk? What is the real negative impact of your leaving? In other words how will it impact your beneficiaries? Do you have a national staff counterpart that can do the job? Should you be training one to replace you?

    You can’t beat the ‘bastards with guns’ by staying (or leaving for that matter) so don’t even try.

  3. harryrud Says:

    IRC never really left, just tempoarily suspended operations and are now back in buisness.

    Kevin, you are of course right, and thankyou. But the cold, hard, sarcastic cynic inside me, on first reading your comment, said it wasn’t my ego influencing anything but my bank balance and CV. Seriously, I don’t think my leaving would have any direct impact on beneficiaries, but my ego doesn’t allow me think my coming here ever had much direct impact on them either.

    I don’t have a national counterpart, for a variety of reasons, but the idea is definitley on my list of things to seriously consider this winter.

  4. Phil Says:

    Its an interesting issue how we continue to justify our presence, through rationalisation and minimisation. I used to think too, that if I couldnt walk places I would leave. But we are not leaving. Why? too hard to shift home again. Kids are happy. WE do important work. etc etc. But how long do we stand this intimidation by proxy? We can’t beat them. Staying or going is less important than we’d like to believe. aljkhfdoahdahf Ahhh! I get sick of trying to work it out.

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