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March-31-98

U.N. Threatens to Leave Afghanistan

U.N. officials warned Afghanistan’s Taliban militia group that it will pull out of the country entirely unless the U.N. is “allowed to do its job.” This includes permitting women to work outside the home, opening schools to girls, and allowing women to obtain sufficient health care. U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said that if the U.N. is not allowed to operate as it does in 184 other countries, “we should pack up and go.”

The U.N. already ended all its operations in southern Afghanistan last week. The move was a protest against attacks on its staff by the Taliban governor of Kandahar, Mullah Hassan Akhund, and a Taliban decree that prohibits foreign Muslim women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by her father, brother or husband.

Brahimi said that it is not just southern Afghanistan that poses a problem for U.N. workers, “Elsewhere we are not happy ... we are having more and more difficulty.” Brahimi said that the Taliban has tried to control U.N. operations and has continued to demand that it be recognized as Afghanistan’s official government. Currently, the U.N.’s Afghanistan seat on the U.N. Security Council is held by former Afghan President and anti-Taliban alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani. The anti-Taliban alliance holds 15% of the country.

Brahimi commented, “The international community has a standard and if you want to be a member of the club you have to abide by the rules.”

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked all governments to stop sending weapons to Afghan groups on either side of the struggle. Annan stressed that as long as the factions were receiving arms the fighting would continue and there would be no chance of either side engaging in “serious political dialogue with one another.”

Annan added that involvement of outside countries has only “exacerbated the tragedy of Afghanistan.”

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Media Resources: AP - March 27/28, 1998

   

     

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