Global perspective Human stories

UN officials urge parties in Afghanistan to respect human rights

UN officials urge parties in Afghanistan to respect human rights

With the situation on the ground in Afghanistan changing rapidly, United Nations officials today called for both sides in the conflict to respect international humanitarian and human rights law.

Recalling the history of retaliation and loss of civilian life that has accompanied previous changes of power in Afghanistan, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, urged the compliance by all forces with humanitarian principles.

In Islamabad, Stephanie Bunker, spokesperson for the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, told a press briefing that according to reports from several sources over 100 Taliban troops, mostly young recruits hiding in a school, had been killed in Mazar-i-Sharif by Northern Alliance forces Saturday evening.

“Overall, the security situation remains somewhat unstable, and the picture is mixed,” Ms. Bunker said. “As of this morning, we heard reports that along with occasional looting there is also ‘punitive action’ that is being carried out. We have also heard that fighting is continuing in and around the city.”

As for the situation with providing relief aid to fleeing Afghans, Ms. Bunker said the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan was asking all parties to the conflict to ensure security to the assistance community throughout the country. “It is essential that staff and property be protected so that humanitarian assistance to the needy civilian population of Afghanistan can continue,” she said.