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March-29-02

UN Official Calls for Increase in International Troops in Afghanistan

The United Nations’ Special Representative on human rights in Afghanistan, Kamel Hossain, called for an immediate expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan to help ensure the establishment of stability and democratic institutions. Hossain, who has made several trips to Afghanistan, cautioned that, “Security lapses could jeopardize the whole transition process” and urged that the ISAF be expanded by at least 10,000 to 20,000 troops. In his report to the UN Commission on Human Rights, Hossain noted that “violent crimes are taking place, some of which are reported to be ethnically motivated, resulting in cross-border refugee flows, and a number of them are reported to be directed against women.” While Hossain supports the creation of an Afghan army and a police force, efforts promoted by the U.S., to ameliorate the situation, he warned “you can’t wish it into existence overnight….Never has so much been at stake if a modest request for 10,000 to 20,000 international security forces is not urgently and immediately made available.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) echoes Hossain's concerns. HRW researchers visited villages in northern Afghanistan and documented reports of violence and abuse against ehtnic Pastuns in the area. Some reported that they had been physically beaten and attacked. Others reported murders, kidnappings, lootings, and extortion. Sexual violence was also prevalent in the area, but according to HRW, "Pashtun women seemed especially singled out for attacks." HRW is now calling for an expansion of the ISAF to end the "campaign of violence" in the area.

The United States and France, however, have opposed the expansion of the ISAF, currently a force of 4,800 troops from Europe and New Zealand led by Britain.

TAKE ACTION: Support Expansion of International Peace Keeping Forces in Afghanistan for Women’s Security

Media Resources: New York Times, 3/28/02; Human Rights Watch; Feminist Majority

   

     

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