Statement Attributable to the Spokesman of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan

The SRSG has today written to Chairman Karzai raising the serious situation in the north of the country, and noting the continuing climate of insecurity there. In particular, he informed Chairman Karzai that UN staff are now reporting an alarming level of violence that is affecting both the personal security and confidence of local residents, and the ability of aid workers to assist them.

The SRSG noted a number of armed attacks, robberies and beatings carried out against international aid organizations, the recent vicious gang rape of a female international aid worker, and recent incident in which a clinic run by an international aid organization was fired on during factional fighting in Solara. Only yesterday, the vehicle of an international aid NGO was fired upon while traveling to oversee bread distribution at an IDP camp in the Dehdadhi district of Mazar. He also reported concerns of increased harassment of Afghan IDPs by various parties, including a number of worrying incidents targeting IDPs recently in Sar-i-Pul.

In the letter, the SRSG regretted that UN interventions with local authorities on these cases had not resulted in effective measures being taken to address the continuing abuses, and warned that many aid workers, noting the climate of fear and insecurity in the region, are considering reducing or discontinuing their work there— something that would clearly be to the detriment of the local population.

The SRSG appealed to the authorities in Kabul to intervene strongly and urgently with the local parties and authorities, in order to secure the restoration of vital humanitarian space in the area, and to ensure that those committing such crimes are held accountable under the law.

The SRSG continues to raise this matter directly with the local authorities and forces, as he has done on several occasions in recent months, and will field a special team to the area to investigate further in the coming days. The SRSG held a meeting this morning with General Abdul Rashid Dictum, General Atta Mohammed, and Mr. Haji Mohammed Mihai, who are attending the Loyal Jirga. These issues were discussed, and the leaders of the three main factions in the north promised to take urgent measures as required by this grave situation.