In talks with Taliban, senior UN envoy presses case for detained aid workers

6 September 2001

A senior United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today discussed with Taliban officials the current situation in that country and pressed for access to detained aid workers, a UN spokesman said in New York.

On a regular visit to Kabul, Francesc Vendrell, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Personal Representative to Afghanistan, met with the deputy foreign minister of the Taliban, Abdul Jalil, and asked the Taliban to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to the 16 national staff of Shelter Now International awaiting trial.

Mr. Vendrell also requested more frequent access by consular staff and others to the eight international staff who have also been detained from the same organization, the spokesman said. All the workers are being held for allegedly attempting to propagate religion.

Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, in its weekly update, said human suffering in Afghanistan has largely surpassed the capacity and resources of the aid community due to both the magnitude and the depth of the crisis.

The human suffering is "a gradually cumulative humanitarian disaster of enormous proportions," the update said. "Conflict, drought, displacement, grinding poverty and human rights abuses adds up to a deadly combination."


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