Press Releases

SG/SM/7997
AFG/155
16 October 2001

SECRETARY-GENERAL REGRETS LOSS OF LIFE BY CONFLICT
IN AFGHANISTAN, EXHORTS ALL PARTIES
TO MINIMIZE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES

Expresses Dismay at Reports of Taliban Harassment
And Beatings of UN Agency Staff


NEW YORK, 15 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a statement today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

I regret the tragic loss of life caused by the intensified conflict in Afghanistan.

Reports are emerging about casualties among the Afghan civilian population, in addition to last week's report of the deaths of four Afghans working with the United Nations-supported Mine Action programme in Kabul. Such reports remind us that, in times of military action, every effort must be made to protect the lives and integrity of the civilian population within Afghanistan as well as of those Afghan and other humanitarian workers still operating in the country.

I have also been dismayed to receive reports that in recent days the Taliban have harassed and beaten up national Afghan staff working for United Nations humanitarian agencies. Equally disturbing, a crowd burned down the United Nations Children's Funds (UNICEF) office and attacked the facilities of other United Nations bodies in Quetta, Pakistan.

Endangering the lives of humanitarian workers and destroying equipment and humanitarian supplies seriously compromises the ability of the United Nations and other humanitarian actors to offer urgently needed assistance to all vulnerable populations.

I exhort all parties to take all possible precautions to minimize civilian casualties. As the world unites in the fight against international terrorism, we must, at the same time, do everything possible to protect innocent civilian populations.

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