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UN Envoy in Afghanistan Condemns Violent Protests

UN Envoy in Afghanistan Condemns Violent Protests in South

New York, May 12 2005 1:00PM

Condemning the violent protests that have rocked the southern city of Jalalabad for the past two days, the head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan today vowed that the street fighting and attacks Wednesday on the mission’s offices will not diminish the UN’s commitment to the Afghan people.

In a statement released today, Jean Arnault, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, strongly condemned the episodes of violence in Jalalabad in which a number of civilians were killed and injured.

He also “deplores the brutal attacks against the premises of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), other UN agencies, as well as governmental and non-governmental and private organizations,” the statement said.
Vowing that e the attacks “will in no way” deter the UN’s commitment to the Afghan people and Government, Mr. Arnault added: “Neither will [the attacks] interrupt the ongoing preparations for parliamentary and provincial council elections.”

The statement commended the Afghan national security forces for demonstrating “courage and professionalism” in defusing violence. UNAMA also called on local authorities and international military forces to do everything in their power to reduce tensions, allow for a swift and complete restoration of law and order and prevent further episodes of violence in Jalalabad and elsewhere in the country.

UNAMA reported yesterday that the student demonstrations in Afghanistan’s south turned violent, with demonstrators throwing stones and, at one point, tossing an explosive device into the UN compound and setting fire to a guard post outside the building.

No UN staff members were hurt, although some vehicles inside the compound were damaged by the stone-throwing and the explosive device. The crowd was dispersed, and the situation in Jalalabad calmed.

Updating reporters today during the mission’s regular briefing in the capital Kabul, UNAMA spokesperson Ariene Quentier said UN personnel were moved from the compound and sent home after the incident. Offices of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had also been attacked. The demonstrators set fire to two cars and managed to get into the building, but the situation was quickly resolved. She added that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) guesthouse was burnt down.

“This prompted a temporary relocation of our staff,” Ms. Quentier said. Given the deterioration of the security situation, the mission decided that some of its staff would be moved to Kabul. A number arrived yesterday, and more staff will be temporarily relocated today.

“That said, we are not closing down. Our national staff remains in Jalalabad and are going to carry on activities,” she said, adding: “The relocated staff will be sent back to Jalalabad as soon as possible.”


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