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Security concerns in northern Afghanistan raised by UN envoy

Security concerns in northern Afghanistan raised by UN envoy

Lakhdar Brahimi
United Nations staff were reporting alarming levels of violence in northern Afghanistan, according to a letter sent by the UN's chief envoy to the country, Lakhdar Brahimi, to the head of the new Afghan Transitional Administration.

In his letter yesterday addressed to Hamid Karzai, Mr. Brahimi described the security situation in the north of the country as "serious" and drew attention to the continuing climate of insecurity.

Mr. Brahimi also informed the Transitional Administration that the level of violence was affecting the security and confidence of local residents, as well as the ability of aid workers to assist them. He noted armed attacks, robberies and beatings carried out against international aid organizations and the recent "vicious" gang rape of a female international aid worker.

The letter appealed to authorities in Kabul to intervene - strongly and urgently - with local parties and authorities. Mr. Brahimi, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, also explained that he would continue to raise this matter directly with local authorities and forces.

Meanwhile, the Loya Jirga - the grand council currently meeting to discuss Afghanistan's future - continued today in Kabul, according to a UN spokesman in New York.

Addressing a full tent, Mr. Karzai announced that the new government would be called the Islamic Transitional Government of Afghanistan, after suggestions from delegates.

Mr. Karzai also named key commissions, which he described as essential in the transitional period. Among those to be set up in the short-term are those focussing on national defence, the civil service and the judicial system.