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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

March-16-01

UNHCR May Send 1.5 Million Refugees Back to Afghanistan, Despite Gender Apartheid

The new head of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees Ruund Lubbers announced possible plans to return 1.5 million refugees to Afghanistan. Lubber intends to negoiate with the Taliban and provide the militia with assistance as part of the plan.

Paradoxically, Lubber claims that many of the people who have fled Afghanistan may no longer qualify as refugees under international law which classifies people as refugees if they have a reasonable fear of persecution at home.

Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal said, "How can UNHCR ignore the Taliban's brutal persecution of women and girls and of ethnic minorities? How can the world community support sending people to face gender apartheid, horrendous human rights violations, famine, and death? We have called for dramatic increases in humanitarian aid for people in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. However, the UNHCR plan sounds more like forced repatriation and support for the Taliban regime than humanitarian assistance." Approximately, 85% of all refugees are women and children. The majority of refugees who have fled to Pakistan over the
past year are ethnic minorities who are particular targets of the Taliban's repression and killings.

Media Resources: Los Angeles Times - March 14, 2001


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