October 3, 2008
Children of U.N. Staff to Leave Pakistan Capital
By STEPHEN GRAHAM
By Stephen Graham
The United Nations declared the Pakistani capital unsafe for the children of its international staff Thursday and ordered them out, putting the once tranquil city on a par with Kabul, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
Pakistan is under intense U.S. pressure to combat militants responsible for rising attacks at home and in neighboring Afghanistan. Its faltering efforts so far have been met with a blur of suicide bombings that have killed nearly 1,200 people since July 2007, according to army statistics released this week.
The United Nations, which employs more than 2,000 people in Pakistan, including about 100 foreigners, has not been hit.
However, the truck bombing of Islamabad's Marriott Hotel last month, which killed 54 people, including three Americans and the Czech ambassador, prompted the world body as well as foreign missions to review security.
Britain said Wednesday that it was repatriating its diplomats' children, and other countries might follow suit. Pakistan has long been a nonfamily posting for U.S. diplomatic staff.
Under the new directive, U.N. expatriate staff will no longer be allowed to live with their children in Islamabad, the neighboring city of Rawalpindi or in Quetta, on the Afghan frontier. Much of the border region, including the city of Peshawar, is already off- limits for U.N. families.
Originally published by BY STEPHEN GRAHAM.
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