Audrey Roberts

Audrey Roberts (Afghan Women's Network's - AWN) Audrey received her BA in cultural anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2003. While working toward a MA in socio-cultural anthropology from Columbia University in 2006, she liaised between the UN and civil society in Haiti during an internship with the United Nations Association-Haiti. After receiving her MA in 2006, Audrey worked with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Belgrade (Democratization Department).


27 Jun

What to look for? White or red Toyota Corollas. Cars with tinted windows. Irregularly placed donkeys.

What to know? Most suicide bombers blow themselves up before noon. Stay away from armored convoys. Stay away from the Ministries.

The timeline below reflects the reported anti governmental incidents and threats in Kabul over the course of the past week:

15 June 2007
Suicide bomber blew himself up near NATO convoy, killing 4 ISAF personnel.

17 June 2007
A suicide bomber disguised as a beggar walked onto a bus that was transporting officers and instructors of the Afghanistan Police Academy. Initial reports claimed that 22 people were killed, 35 injured.

20 June 2007
One suicide bomber blew himself up next to a national official’s vehicle. No one was injured. The police were hunting two other suspected suicide bombers.

21 June 2007
The US Department of State issued a warning that well-dressed, English speaking suicide bombers would try to strike at expat hangouts. No reported incidents.

I wish I could easily spell out for you what it feels like to be on the look out for something that seems very obvious but is so very abstract in reality – the suicide bomber. The best description that I could come up with is that it is something between fear, resignation, denial and certainty:
• It won’t happen to me because I am being smart and I am working so far under the radar that I will not be targeted.
• It could happen to me because it is about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When asked how people – nationals and expats – feel about the recent security incidents, the answer is always the same: This is Afghanistan. I understand completely for my friends, colleagues and family members who are not in Afghanistan that this explanation – This is Afghanistan – is convoluted. In lieu of providing you with an outline of the complicated history of why this makes sense, I can write that no NGOs or international organizations are talking about leaving yet. When one decides to come to Afghanistan, they understand that they are taking a risk. In the past 5 years, the situation has been worse than it is now and it has been better and then worse again and so on.

How do I feel about the security situation? I have no basis for comparison other than the last three weeks I have been in Kabul. All I can do is listen to the security professionals and feed off of my friends and colleagues who have been here much longer than I. For the time being, I feel fine. I am being productive. I have a social life. However, I am fully aware that things could get worse very quickly. More than anything else, I think that this is the most important thing to understand.

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Posted By Audrey Roberts

Posted Jun 27th, 2007

1 Comment

  • Stephanie

    September 10, 2007


    I happen to know that your undergraduate research was focused on suicide bombers (and specifically female suicide bombers). What have you learned to supplement your past interests since you have been in Kabul?
    Also, I just listened to Khaled Housseni’s last book, 1000 splendid sons. Have you read this book? If so, how accurate do you think his depiction of Afghani women is (understanding that it is still a fictional novel)?
    Wishing you the best,

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