More than 200 diplomats from Afghanistan sent abroad have not returned to the war-stricken country after ending their tour of duty, a local media reported on Monday.
According to the media report, the majority of those who failed to return have applied for asylum in the hosting or a third country, including former ambassadors posted to among other countries in France, the Netherlands, the UK or Switzerland.
Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Shekib Mustaghni confirmed that some diplomats had applied for asylum, but declined to give exact figures.
“Over 200 diplomats have indeed not returned to their job over the past 15 years,’’ Mustaghni said, adding that diplomats also had “other reasons” not to return, such as “retirement, change of job or getting fired.”
The findings are not new. Sources at the Foreign Ministry have said repeatedly that, for years, embassy staff members have gone missing or refused to return home after an assignment abroad.
The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated since the end of the NATO combat mission and the handover to Afghan forces on Dec. 31, 2014.
According to military sources, the targeted killing of government employees is one strategy employed by the Taliban, whose militants control or influence no less that 11 per cent of the country, while fighting for another 30 per cent.