The United Nations suspended its participation in joint screening of Afghan refugees with Pakistan government officials Friday, claiming Pakistan had broken its agreement with the UN by taking refugees back to Afghanistan and handing them directly over to the Taliban. The agreement would have provided for UNHCR and Pakistan government officials to interview refugees entering Pakistan to determine whether they wanted to return to Afghanistan and if they had a legitimate claim to stay in Pakistan. According to UN officials, Pakistan government officials lured 28 Afghan families into trucks Wednesday, by promising they would be relocated from the notoriously overcrowded makeshift Jalozai camp to a better equipped camp. Instead, the 145 people were handed over to Taliban authorities at the Pakistan border.
Meanwhile, the 460 refugees-most of them Afghans-seeking international asylum off the coast of Australia remain stranded on their freighter as a glimmer of hope appears in the situation. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that her country may be able to accept some of the refugees, but not all due to the islandís small size, and encouraged other countries to do the open their doors as well. And, in Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to threaten humanitarian aid efforts, shutting down two aid agencies associated with the Christian church Friday because of their connections to Shelter Now International aid workers, who are currently being detained in a Taliban prison on charges of proselytizing Christianity.