|For information only - not an official document.|
22 January 2001
SECRETARY-GENERAL VERY CONCERNED ABOUT REPORTS
NEW YORK, 19 January (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
The Secretary-General is very concerned about reports that civilians were deliberately targeted and killed during recent fighting in the Yakawlang area of Hazarajat in central Afghanistan. It appears that more than 100 people may have been killed, including Afghan humanitarian workers. In addition, a United Nations local staff member is missing. These reported killings have led to massive displacement and to the increased suffering of a population that has already been badly affected by the drought and is now at great risk from sub-zero temperatures and hunger.
On 20 December 2000, Hezb-e-Wahdat forces, which are affiliated with the United Front, overran Yakawlang, only to be driven back by the Taliban in early January. Since then there have been numerous credible reports of widespread summary executions of Hazara civilians by the Taliban, who apparently accused the local population of supporting the Hezb-e-Wahdat. This is only the latest tragedy to befall the Hazaras, a largely Shi’ite ethnic group, that has traditionally been the most disadvantaged in Afghanistan.
The Secretary-General deplores any killing of civilians, and demands that the Taliban take immediate steps to control their forces. These reports require prompt investigation and that those responsible be brought to justice.
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