A South Korean reconstruction team in Afghanistan has successfully completed its four-year-long mission, helping rebuild the war-torn nation, a pool report said Tuesday.
South Korea's provincial reconstruction team, comprising some 150 civilian aid workers and police officers, has been stationed in the northern province of Parwan since mid-2010 to build and operate a hospital, a police training center and other aid facilities.
At the U.S. military base at Bagram in Afghanistan, South Korea on Monday (local time) held a ceremony to mark the successful completion of the reconstruction team's mission, attended by some 200 distinguished guests.
"Even though it is true that the Korean PRT has achieved tremendous things, beyond all those figures, I have to reiterate that the Korean PRT truly has won the hearts and minds of the Afghan people," Kim You-churl, representative of the PRT, said in his opening remarks.
The Korean PRT's withdrawal comes as reconstruction teams from other countries are pulling out of Afghanistan with the International Security Assistance Force, a NATO-led force operating in Afghanistan, which will end its mission at the end of this year.
Since the facilities were handed over to the Parwan provincial government in 2012, the aid workers have moved to the Bagram air base, where they operate a hospital and a vocational training center.
Though the PRT's mission has expired, South Korea plans to turn the hospital and the training centers into a form of its official development aid for assistance purposes.
To this end, about 40 South Korean civilian aid workers will stay and the South Korean government set up an office to support them at the air base.
South Korea also signed a preliminary deal with ISAF on its support for the war-ravaged country and the legal status of remaining Koreans at the Bagram base. The memorandum of understanding calls for providing safety measures for Koreans at a similar level to those guaranteed for U.S. soldiers in emergencies, according to Seoul's foreign ministry.
A contingent of South Korean troops in Afghanistan, or the Ashena unit, will return home as the mission of PRT workers ended.
The Ashena unit was deployed in the nation in a bid to protect Korean PRT workers. Ashena means "friend" in the local language. (Yonhap)