NEW YORK — Nutrition & Education International (NEI) had a meeting with the U.S. Department of Defense yesterday to discuss what the government can do to make amends after a U.S. drone strike killed aid worker Zemari Ahmadi and nine members of his family in Kabul on Aug. 29, 2021. Mr. Ahmadi was one of NEI’s first six Afghan employees, a key leader on its staff, and held the position of technical engineer with NEI. The American Civil Liberties Union and Cohen Milstein are now representing NEI.
“Zemari was like a son to me, and I join his family in grieving his loss, the deaths of his three sons, and six other family members,” said Dr. Steven Kwon, President & CEO of Nutrition & Education International. “When Zemari started with NEI in 2006, he was a handyman who had never attended school. But he was extraordinarily smart, a gifted engineer, and he became an essential part of our operations and successes. Nothing can bring Zemari or these other precious people back, but we appreciate the opportunity to discuss these devastating losses in detail with senior Defense Department officials. We hope they will act urgently to get surviving family members and impacted NEI employees to safety and to help them to rebuild their lives.”
NEI’s primary concern is for the safety and welfare of Mr. Ahmadi’s remaining relatives, as well as for NEI’s Afghan colleagues. NEI is asking the Department of Defense to urgently evacuate and resettle Ahmadi family members and NEI’s employees at risk, compensate survivors, and conduct a meaningful investigation into the strike.
“It is a privilege for us to support NEI and the Ahmadi family members in this traumatic time,” said Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “The U.S. wrongly killed their loved ones, and what makes this tragedy different from so many others during the war in Afghanistan is that because of public attention, top Pentagon officials met with NEI and explicitly promised to help. We also hope that the investigation into the strike provides NEI and the Ahmadi family meaningful transparency and accountability.”