As the controversy swarms around the Talibanís refusal to release 24 humanitarian aid workers from custody, new reports of human rights abuses are emerging from one of the countryís poorest and most remote regions. According to refugee accounts, Taliban militants have set fire to businesses and villages in Yakawlang, Bamiyin, and the surrounding areas as recently as this June. The Taliban is also believed to have killed at least 170 men and teenage boys in January, after opposing forces took control of Yakawlang. Additional reports of mass murder and burnings have surfaced in recent weeks indicating that the fundamentalist militant group shot as many as 130 men, women, and children in recent military maneuvers, including several men who were trying to get back to their homes to tend their crops.
Given that Afghans are facing their fourth year of severe drought, those crops, along with continuing humanitarian aid, will be critical to civilian survival in the upcoming winter. However, as tension mounts between relief workers and Taliban officials, fear is growing that aid agencies may soon decide to leave. More than $300 million from countries and relief agencies around the world is currently provided to Afghan civilians.
Media Resources: BBC, 8/20/01; New York Times, 8/23/01