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Annan "Deeply Distressed" by Displacement of Afghan Civilians

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan released a statement yesterday saying that he was "deeply distressed by reports of widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Afghanistan."

A spokesperson for the U.N. added that Annan "strongly condemns the ongoing forceful displacement of civilians, resulting from the most recent offensive by the Taliban, and remains alarmed by reports of violations affecting inhabitants of the Shomali plain, as well as displaced persons in Kabul." Annan also expressed concern about reports that children as young as age 14 were engaging in combat.

As a result of the Taliban's latest military endeavors, approximately 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Almost 20,000 of those people have fled to or were forced into the capital city of Kabul, where the Taliban has detained those who lived in areas held by the Taliban's opposition. Many are in danger of dying due to disease, starvation, and dehydration. Residents of Afghanistan's Shomali plain were quoted as saying that Taliban soldiers had set entire villages on fire in an attempt to force civilians out.

Annan urged the Taliban and its opposition to "immediately end the conflict" and to take measure to protect aid workers and civilians while fighting ensues.

Media Resources: Reuters - August 17, 1999



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