Afghans urge "brotherly" treatment for refugees
By Raja Asghar
ISLAMABAD, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement urged neighbouring Pakistan on Monday to offer "brotherly treatment" to tens of thousands of Afghan refugees trying to escape from war and severe drought.
The Taleban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, also called upon the United Nations to set up camps inside Afghanistan for displaced people so the influx into Pakistan could be stemmed.
"We...call upon the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to mete out brotherly treatment to their Afghan brothers at the border and inside the country as they have been doing for the past two decades," Zaeef told a news conference.
U.N. officials estimate more than 120,000 new Afghan refugees have arrived in Pakistan since September, mostly fleeing from conflict and the worst drought in three decades.
Pakistan, one of the few countries to recognise the Taleban government, says it will not allow in Afghans without travel documents and it has started deporting refugees who have not registered with authorities.
Zaeef said the latest influx was a consequence of tough, new U.N. sanctions imposed on the Taleban earlier this month mainly to force it to hand over Saudi-born terrorism suspect, Osama bin Laden, for trial in the United States.
"MISERABLE, COMPELLING CONDITIONS"
Pakistan, which played host to more than three million Afghan refugees during the Soviet occupation of the country in the 1980s, says there are more than two million Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
"We are aware of the economic constraints of Pakistan," Zaeef said. "However, the Afghans are heading toward Pakistan in very miserable and compelling conditions.
"They are bearing the brunt of the partial and politically motivated (U.N.) resolutions," he said.
Zaeef called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) to set up camps inside Afghanistan without delay.
"Any delay in the relief (will) cause further human tragedy and sufferings."
The new U.N. Security Council sanctions, which came into effect on January 19, order the closure of Taleban offices abroad, ban overseas travel by Taleban officials and impose an arms embargo on the strict Islamic movement, but not on an opposition alliance fighting its rule.
The curbs are aimed at forcing the Taleban to extradite bin Laden, close down guerrilla training camps and halt production of narcotics in the 95 percent of Afghanistan under its control.
The Taleban says it has no training camps and has banned cultivation of the opium poppy, but it says it will not expel bin Laden because it regards him as innocent.
Authorities in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province began a crackdown against unregistered Afghan refugees on Thursday and have since arrested and deported hundreds of them.
UNHCR officials say more than 80,000 new refugees have been registered by authorities in refugee camps and about 40,000 have joined friends or relatives in Pakistan without registering.
Government officials say more than 300,000 unregistered Afghan refugees are living in the Frontier province, crowding cities and putting a strain on stretched civic facilities.
|Back to News Archirves of 2001|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).