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UN: Taleban Harassment of Aid Workers Should Cease - 2001-10-17

The United Nations Security Council has called on Afghanistan's ruling Taleban to stop its harassment of humanitarian workers delivering aid in the desperate nation. With the onset of winter in Afghanistan only a month away, United Nations officials are expressing concern about the humanitarian needs of the Afghan population.

The deteriorating situation in Afghanistan was discussed Tuesday at a Security Council meeting attended by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi. Afterwards, Security Council President Richard Ryan of Ireland called on the Taleban to help the suffering Afghan population. "Council members demanded that the Taleban should stop threatening the safety and security of aid workers and to cease obstructing aid destined for the Afghan people," said Mr. Ryan. "They also called on the Taleban to contribute to the alleviation of hardship by the very large part of the Afghan population comprising women, girls and children."

The Security Council also asked the international community to help neighboring countries cope with the large numbers of refugees fleeing Afghanistan in the wake of U.S. bombing in response to the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States. The U.S. government says the Taleban is harboring suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says $50 million will be needed to care for an estimated 400,000 Afghan refugees during the first stage of the emergency. So far, donor governments have pledged $23 million in aid, but only half that amount has been received.

The World Food Program says it has received less than six percent of its appeal for $257 million despite generous pledges. And the United Nations Children's Fund says it has received only half of the $36 million requested for emergency work.