Mercy Corps is deeply saddened to report one of its staff members in Afghanistan was killed in an automobile accident on Friday. Dr. Wasi Kohistani, age 56, was an Afghan national and the deputy program manager of Mercy Corps' Afghanistan Agribusiness and Agriculture Development (AABAD) program.
Dr. Kohistani was killed when his vehicle was caught up in a powerful avalanche on the south side of the Salang tunnels, which connects Kabul to northern Afghanistan. More than 20 vehicles were caught up in the avalanche and 10 people have been reported killed.
The Mercy Corps vehicle was swept down a steep embankment and rolled over multiple times before landing on its roof under more than five feet of snow. Efforts to rescue and revive Dr. Kohistani were unsuccessful. A Mercy Corps driver was also injured; two additional staffers were unharmed.
Dr. Kohistani and the other passengers were traveling from Kunduz to Kabul after completing a two-day workshop for executive committee members of a nursery association in Kunduz.
Dr. Kohistani, a doctor of veterinary sciences, joined Mercy Corps in 2007. He received his degree from the University of Budapest and worked as a veterinarian with the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture for over 13 years beginning in 1979. From 1998 to 2007, Dr. Kohistani worked as a field officer or manager for veterinary and animal health programs for several international relief-and-development agencies in Afghanistan, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the Dutch Committee for Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter-in-law and three daughters.
Mercy Corps has worked in war-torn Afghanistan since 1986, currently helping more than 2.5 million Afghans stabilize and rehabilitate their lives through agricultural development, microfinance, job creation and other efforts.