UNITED NATIONS -- A memo from the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to his staff describes the poor recruitment rate months after a deadly attack on the UN compound in Kabul, RFE/RL reports.
UNAMA chief of staff Peter Schmitz said in the memo that despite improved security, UN staff in Kabul remain "vulnerable to attack." He said that by the end of April there will be enough additional housing units for the UN's staff in Afghanistan -- much of which is currently located in Dubai -- to be able to return to Kabul.
A UN building in Kabul was attacked on October 28, resulting in the deaths of five UN workers and six others. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which led to some 600 UNAMA staff -- more than half -- relocating both within Afghanistan and abroad.
Schmitz's letter stated that virtually no new employees joined UNAMA in the second half of 2009 and that if the staffing "backlog" continues, UNAMA "would not be able to implement key elements of its mandate." He said the vacancy rate for available positions in UNAMA is at 44 percent.
Schmitz wrote that it is "understood" that the UN compound in Kabul, which is seven kilometers from the city center, is "not an ideal location for those staff who have their offices or frequent meetings in the center of the city. The commute takes a lot of time and exposes them to additional risks, even though the use of armored vehicles has now been mandatory for some time."
Schmitz said the UN is seeking additional accommodation and office space in Kabul's city center.
The memo was sent by Schmitz on February 22 and was reported by the Inner City Press.
Martin Nesirky, a UN spokesman, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is aware of the problems related to hiring UNAMA staff and is "concerned about the slow pace of recruitment."