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UN Worries About Afghan Stability - 2002-03-25


U.N. officials are expressing concern about the internal stability of Afghanistan. The officials say the situation in Kabul is stable because of the presence of international troops, but they say areas outside the Afghan capital remain extremely fragile.

The U.N. officials say ethnic tensions and jockeying for power on the part of rival warlords have created an unstable situation in much of Afghanistan.

A U.N. official just back from Afghanistan, Kofi Asomani, told reporters in Geneva that many Afghans are relocating to avoid conflicts with other ethnic groups. "Minorities are moving out of the areas in which they are now and trying to get into areas which have majority populations of their own ethnic description," he said. "Particularly, the news was more about Pashtuns in the north who were having to move to Pashtun areas, whether in Afghanistan or in Pakistan."

Jeff Lubovitz is responsible for coordinating emergency efforts in northern Afghanistan for the International Organization for Migration, the main organization working with displaced people in Afghanistan.

He says that the area around the northern city of Mazar e Sherif is one of the most unstable places in Afghanistan, but he says the different factions there recognize they have to cooperate in order to receive international assistance.

"The so-called warlords have a stake in the peace process because they control different areas and different territories, he said. "There are economic opportunities and constituencies and having peace allows them economic progress and developing whatever their political careers are. What is most important for them is to feel like they are a part of the process and they are a meaningful part of the process by moving forward in economic development primarily."

Mr. Lubovitz says although there are ethnic tensions, all sides realize that nobody wins if fighting starts again.

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