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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 05:13 GMT
Sanctions deadline for Taleban
Balloon seller in Kabul
There are fears sanctions could worsen the economy
By Kate Clark in Kabul

The UN Security Council is due to impose new sanctions on the Taleban in Afghanistan.

Osama Bin Laden
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Last month, it gave the Taleban 30 days to hand over the Saudi dissident, Osama Bin Laden, who is wanted for the bombing of two American embassies in 1998.

It has also demanded that the Taleban close down training camps for foreign Islamic militants and allow the UN to monitor those camps.

With the deadline set for Friday, the Taleban have shown no sign of complying with either demand.

The Security Council said the new sanctions had to be imposed because of Taleban support for foreign Islamic militants.

New measures

Diplomats said the new measures were designed to hit the Taleban without hurting ordinary Afghans.

Taleban fighter
The Taleban have remained defiant
They include banning senior officials from travelling abroad except for humanitarian, religious or peace process-related trips, banning international flights and closing down most of the Taleban's overseas offices.

There is also a unilateral arms embargo which leaves the Afghan opposition still free to buy arms.

The decision to apply the new sanctions has been controversial.

It has drawn public criticism from NGOs, humanitarian and political agencies, from the UN and even the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, himself.

Concerns

There is concern that the UN will lose its moral authority by seeming to side with the opposition in the Afghan civil war and that the Afghan economy is so weak any shock could hurt people.

The value of the national currency has already fallen.

People are buying dollars and Pakistani rupees because they believe, mistakenly, that the UN is imposing an economic blockade or even halting its aid programme.

The Taleban are angry about what they see as an attack on the Afghan nation and on Islam itself.

The feeling on the streets is more one of demoralisation because Afghans are being even further isolated from the world.

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See also:

12 Dec 00 | South Asia
UN staff leaving Afghanistan
08 Dec 00 | South Asia
Pakistan attacks Afghan sanctions
07 Dec 00 | South Asia
US and Russia unite against Taleban
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Who is Osama bin Laden?
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