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UN Temporarily Moving Some International Staff From Afghanistan To Kazakhstan

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A doctor fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Kabul on July 11, 2021. The COVID-19 vaccines were donated by the United States and delivered through the UN.

NUR-SULTAN -- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and other UN agencies accredited there have started to temporarily relocate to Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, amid instability in Kabul caused by Taliban militants taking control of the city.

Kazakhstan's foreign minister said on August 19 that the first group of UNAMA staff members arrived in Almaty overnight.

"Due to the escalation of the internal political situation in Afghanistan, the United Nations turned to Kazakhstan and asked to temporarily relocate UNAMA and other UN agencies accredited in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Almaty... President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev made the decision to support the request," the ministry said in a statement.

Kazakh state media reports said 141 UN workers arrived in Almaty aboard the plane.

UN spokesman Stephane Durjarric said on August 18 that about 100 international staff would temporarily relocate to Almaty as a "temporary measure."

He stressed that the world body is committed to providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country.

The Taliban has pledged to protect diplomatic staff and UN personnel as part of a broader public relations bid to reshape its image and avoid international isolation.

The UN and its agencies have about 3,000 Afghan employees, in addition to international staff.

Dujarric said "a significant amount of work is being undertaken, as we speak, specifically to safeguard national staff."

A Kazakh military cargo plane evacuated 25 Kazakh, 14 Kyrgyz, one Russian, and one Lithuanian from Afghanistan to Almaty on August 18.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry's press service also said on August 18 that Toqaev ordered officials to outline a program for bringing ethnic Kazakh Afghan citizens from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan.

With reporting by Tengrinews and KazTAG

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