‘They came to serve a European ideal, and maybe even more importantly, they came to serve the Afghan people’ - Remembering our fallen colleagues

Kabul, November 2016. EUPOL casualties were specially remembered during the closing ceremony to mark the coming end of the mission which was held on 14 November at the EUPOL headquarters.

The European Union Special Representative in Afghanistan Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin joined the EUPOL Head of Mission Ms. Pia Stjernvall in paying tribute to the mission members who had lost their lives in the line of duty.

“EUPOL has unfortunately suffered casualties. We lost one mission member and two members of our close protection team. We honour their lives in the fight for the people of this country. We will continue to remember them for their courage and sacrifice,” said Ms. Stjernvall.

Mette Teilmann Nielsen was killed in an attack in January 2014, along with her close protection officer Simon Chase. Mick Hampshire, also a close protection officer, perished in a May 2015 attack.

Ambassador Mellbin highlighted the story of the young Danish woman Mette Teilmann Nielsen, saying it represented the people who work for EUPOL; of what has inspired them to come to Afghanistan since 2007. “Mette used to be a teacher. She came to EUPOL because she believed she could make a difference in working to develop female policing in Afghanistan. She was motivated by the feeling of being part of something greater than herself and was willing to take the risks involved. She was killed shortly after joining EUPOL. She paid the highest price.”

Pia Stjernvall paid homage to the fallen close protection officers, saying they had “given their lives in protecting others.” She underlined that EUPOL has never been part of fighting; the mission’s role has been to support civilian policing in Afghanistan through advising the Ministry of Interior Affairs. She also saluted the other members of EUPOL’s security personnel who had sustained serious injuries in separate attacks.

Mr. Mellbin described the lives of all the EUPOL casualties as part of the greatest legacy of EUPOL. “They were motivated by an ambition to serve a higher idea. The 28 member states of the European Union and other nations send their citizens here to serve on their behalf, but ultimately, each person makes the choice to come here themselves,” he stated.

The memory of our colleagues should serve to remind us that they helped make the progress that has been achieved possible.

In the words of Ambassador Mellbin: “They came to serve a European ideal and maybe even more importantly, they came to serve the Afghan people – without the determination and dedication of such individuals, EUPOL would not have achieved the positive results it can be proud of today.”