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Disturbed at reported attacks in Afghanistan, Annan urges international response

Disturbed at reported attacks in Afghanistan, Annan urges international response

Secretary-General Kofi Annan reacted with dismay today to reported attacks against civilians in Afghanistan and urged the international community to explore ways to prevent further rights violations there.

"The Secretary-General is dismayed at the persistent failure of the warring parties to abide by international humanitarian norms and to hold those responsible for gross violations of human rights accountable for their actions," said Manoel de Almeida e Silva, a spokesman for Mr. Annan. "He urges the international community and human rights organizations to explore new approaches that would prevent further abuses and put an end to the climate of impunity."

The spokesman said the Secretary-General was particularly disturbed at "alarming" reports from Afghanistan of indiscriminate bombing, including attacks on the District Hospital and local aid agency facilities, and violence against civilians, during the takeover of Yakawlang by Taliban forces on 11 June.

Reports of the widespread burning of homes and other property as well as the detention of a large number of civilians were "especially alarming in the context of past human rights abuses in the area by Taliban commanders," Mr. de Almeida e Silva said.

Meanwhile, at the request of the Taliban, the UN has agreed to continue talks on a World Food Programme (WFP) proposal to hire women to conduct a survey which is needed to preserve a key WFP project in Kabul.

WFP had originally set today as a deadline for suspending the project, which benefits close to 300,000 people in Kabul through local bakeries. The agency warned that it would be forced to put the operation on hold if the Taliban rejects its proposal for conducting the survey.