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Security Council voices concern at worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

Security Council voices concern at worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

Security Council members today expressed deep concern at the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and said the world community was "ready and determined" to lend the country and its neighbours desperately needed help.

"The tragedy of the Afghan people has deep roots, more than two decades of conflict and three years of drought, but the fast deteriorating situation today was basically the result of decisions taken by the Taliban," said Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France, which this month holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member UN body.

"Members of the Council called on the Taliban immediately to remove all restrictions on the supply of desperately needed humanitarian aid, including those on food supplies and humanitarian relief workers," Ambassador Levitte said. "These restrictions have one result: the humanitarian assistance cannot be provided inside the country. The Taliban will be held responsible for the consequences of their own decision."

Council members said that the international community stood "ready and determined" to respond urgently and generously to the repeated calls by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and UN agencies for assistance for the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries. The statement recognized "the particular pressures" of potential refugee flows on Afghanistan's neighbours, especially Pakistan and Iran, and said specific help for those countries was needed.

Ambassador Levitte said that in addition to Mr. Annan's briefing on different aspects of the current situation in and around Afghanistan, Council Members also discussed the political situation. They reaffirmed the relevant resolutions on Afghanistan, particularly the ones calling for the Taliban to turn over Usama bin Laden, and welcomed the recent commitment by countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and especially Pakistan.