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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
UN steps up pressure on Taleban
Taleban fighters
The UN wants to keep the Taleban in check
By UN correspondent Mike Donkin

The United Nations Security Council is being asked to set up a new organisation to put more pressure on Afghanistan's rulers, the Taleban.

Its job would be to police the UN's existing arms embargo against the extreme Islamic group, and ensure the shutdown of terrorist training camps in the country.

The call comes in a report - seen by the BBC - from a UN team who spent a month in the region.

They also propose measures to block aircraft fuel supplies to the Taleban, and stem the flow of recruits from other Islamic nations to fight in Afghanistan's civil war.

Sanctions against the Taleban came into force this January, mainly because of US pressure to flush the international terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden out of Afghanistan.

Tighter controls

A UN team of experts has just toured six neighbouring nations to assess if border controls are working now, and how they might be tightened.

Afghan women
Human rights groups are concerned by events in Afghanistan
On arms, the team concludes that the Taleban have more than enough weapons already.

But because its war against the Mujaheddin is a remote conflict, the Taleban would suffer if fuel supplies for military aircraft were blocked.

The report also notes how religious schools in Pakistan "force" men and boys to cross the border to fight for the Taleban, and says more should be done to prevent this.

The experts also want the Security Council to set up a new UN enforcement body to co-ordinate monitoring along some 6,400 kilometres of Afghanistan's mountain and desert borders.

The body would also check on how the Taleban get their funds, especially through drug-trafficking.

Some 80% of the world's opium and heroin production comes from Afghanistan, and drug prices have soared despite a Taleban edict to stamp out poppy cultivation.

Extreme reactions

On the face of it, attempts to curb the Taleban so far have only brought extreme reactions, such as the blowing-up of Buddhist statues, closure of UN offices and, most recently forcing all Hindus to wear distinguishing yellow markers.

Buddhist statues at Bamiyan, Afghanistan
The Taleban destroyed Buddhist statues in March
The report concedes that putting a UN force on the borders would probably be ineffective, hugely expensive, and difficult to get member nations to send troops to join.

But, it tells the Security Council, sanctions must be enforced if the UN wants to push Afghanistan towards a broad-based, multi ethnic and responsible government.

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See also:

24 May 01 | South Asia
Taleban's Hindu tagging condemned
17 May 01 | South Asia
'Liberty' for Afghan women
26 Mar 01 | South Asia
Reporters see wrecked Buddhas
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
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