- Detention of NGO Staff by Taliban Authorities
- Accusations of Christian Missionary Work
- International Assistance Mission’s Response
At least 18 staff members of an international NGO, including an American woman, have been detained by Taliban authorities in Afghanistan, who accuse them of carrying out Christian missionary work, the country’s leaders announced on Saturday.
The International Assistance Mission (IAM) confirmed that its Ghor, central Afghanistan, personnel were moved to Kabul.
Abdul Wahid Hamas Ghori, regional government spokesperson, told AFP that security and intelligence agents watched the group.
“Documents and audios were obtained indicating that they were inviting people to convert to Christianity,” he said, without providing additional information.
He stated that 21 individuals, including an American woman, were arrested.
IAM had said that 18 people, including a “foreigner,” were being held but had no details about the allegations.
The American woman and two Afghan employees were arrested on September 3, followed by 15 Afghan employees on Wednesday.
“Should any charges be brought against our organization or an individual employee. We will independently review any evidence presented,” the statement continued.
IAM’s website states that it was founded on Christian values but does not provide political or religious aid.
“We value and respect local customs and cultures,” the group incorporated in Switzerland said in a statement on Saturday.
IAM has been operating in Afghanistan since 1966, through previous royal, communist, and Taliban administrations, initially specializing in eye care before expanding to other health and education-related fields.
In 2010, ten IAM physicians, including eight foreign nationals, were killed in a remote region of northern Afghanistan.
At the time, competing theories arose regarding the attack’s motive, with police concluding that it was likely a robbery.
However, two militant groups claimed responsibility, including Taliban leaders who said the medics were Christian missionaries and accused them of operating as military spies.
Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, dozens of expatriates, including a handful of Westerners, have been detained by Taliban authorities.
Teenage girls and women are also barred from schools, universities, and other public social activities.
Teenage girls and women are barred from schools, universities, and other public social activities.