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UN to resume communication system in Kabul

November 03, 2001

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 2: The Taliban, after almost four weeks of suspension, have allowed the United Nations to restore its communication infrastructure in Kabul.

Speaking at a news conference here on Friday, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA) spokesperson, Stephanie Bunker, said the Taliban have allowed the UN to use the communication facilities six days of the week in Kabul, but under their supervision.

The UNDP resident coordinator for Pakistan, Onder Yucer, in meetings with the Taliban ambassador, Mulla Abdul Zaeef, had been repeatedly calling for restoration of the communication link with the local staff. The Taliban cited security concerns for stopping the communications.

About the security situation inside Afghanistan, the spokesperson said that on Oct 28 and 29, armed elements broke into the offices of an NGO in Kabul and beat the staff. In Kandahar, she said, most UN vehicles continue to be used by armed elements.

Regarding the delivery of humanitarian assistance, she said that 50 per cent relief operation targets in western Afghanistan might remain unfulfilled. A number of new routes are being explored by the UN and a logistical support unit has been established in Iran to coordinate relief activities to reach the people in western Afghanistan, she said.

The UNOCHA spokesperson said that three clinics and two offices were damaged as a result of the US airstrikes on Herat. However, no reports of civilian casualties have been received by the UN, she said, adding, the damage was minimal. The UNHCR on Friday claimed that more than a hundred thousand refugees have crossed into Pakistan since September 11.

Speaking at the UN news conference, the UNHCR spokesperson, Peter Kessler, said that it is difficult to monitor some 300 crossing points which were being used by the refugees to cross over into Pakistan.

The UNHCR spokesperson said that the UNHCR is seeking government’s permission to shift the refugees from the Killi Faizo camp to refugee camps about 20km inside the border.

The Killi Faizo refugee site, about 600 metres inside the Pakistan border near Chaman, has been filled to capacity and further registration of new arrivals has been stopped.

The spokesperson further said that commercial activities across the Chaman border are continuing normally but the border remains officially closed for the refugees.