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Violence In Afghanistan At Worst Since 2001

Violence In Afghanistan Is At Its Most Severe Since The Fall Of The Taliban In 2001: Annan

New York, Sep 21 2006 6:00PM

The upsurge in violence in Afghanistan over the past few months represents a “watershed” and is the most severe threat to the country’s transition to peace since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warns today, urging greater military and diplomatic efforts to counter the insurgency.

Mr. Annan’s grim assessment comes in his latest situation report to the Security Council, which also covers the work of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) over the past six months since 7 March.

“While previous reporting periods have been marked by progressive and significant deteriorations in the security situation, the recent upsurge of violence represents a watershed. At no time since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001 has the threat to Afghanistan’s transition been so severe.”

“A third of the country is racked by violent insurgency. The situation in the south, south-east and east is unlikely to improve in the near future and the prospect of further deterioration cannot be excluded.”

In light of the situation, Mr. Annan welcomes the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the south of the country, adding that elements of a strategy to tackle the insurgency are emerging from discussions led by the Government and members of the international community.

He said that most of the fighting involves Afghans operating inside the country’s borders. However, the leaders of the insurgency rely “heavily on cross-border fighters, many of whom are Afghans drawn from nearby refugee camps and radical seminaries in Pakistan.”

Mr. Annan identifies “five distinct leadership centres” of the insurgency, including the Taliban northern and southern commands, and he says these should be dealt with through “robust military and law enforcement measures,” while dialogue must be increased among all sides to try and separate the “bulk of combatants from the leaders of the insurgency.

The narcotics industry – which fuels the insurgency – and corruption must also be dealt with as “matters of priority” by the Government, Mr. Annan points out, while also expressing concern for the human rights situation.

“The Taliban and other anti-Government forces continue to demonstrate an inexcusable disregard for the value of human life… Afghan security forces and their international partners must also be wary of invoking the security situation as a justification to suppress human rights.”

Concluding his 18-page report, Mr. Annan urges the international community – as well as local communities – to work hand-in-hand with the Government towards the long-term security and development vision outlined in the multi-billion dollar five-year Afghanistan Compact that was adopted in January.

“Afghan and international members of the [Compact’s] Board will need to work more closely in a spirit of partnership and effectiveness to ensure that the ambitious agenda is achieved to the greatest benefit of the Afghan people.”

Ends

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