BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Taleban 'to welcome aid agencies'
Taleban fighter loads rocket propelled grenades onto a truck
The Taleban have rocket-propelled grenades ready
The BBC's Haroon Rashid gains access to Taleban-controlled areas of southern Afghanistan.

Nearly 700 displaced Afghans are awaiting for food relief at a camp set up just inside Afghanistan - and the Taleban say they would welcome outside help for them.

Mullah Mohammad Omar said in a message that his followers should respect foreign aid workers

Taleban official Mullah Najeebullah
Sitting under a baking sun and exposed to extremely dusty winds, the people in this camp in Afghanistan's border town of Spin Boldak come from as far as Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the south.

The camp is being run by the International Islamic Relief Organisation with Taleban assistance.


It is situated three kilometres inside Afghanistan from the Pakistan border on a dry and open plain.

Refugee girl
The refugees are short of food and water
The chief organiser of the camp, Iftikhar Ahmed, told the BBC these displaced people urgently needed food and clean drinking water.

He said that because of shortages of these two items, most of the Afghans - especially the children - were suffering from malnutrition and diarrhoea.

Mullah Najeebullah, a local Taleban official, said they would welcome any foreign assistance for these displaced people.

"Our leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said in a message on Tuesday that his followers should respect foreign aid workers."

He said they agreed to set up the camp because of the constant refusal by the Pakistani Government to allow the refugees entry.

"People were losing their relatives and their respect amid the anarchy at the border."


Dr Iftikhar said more people were pouring in the camp from different areas of Afghanistan.

Refugee family
The young are especially vulnerable to disease
A young man from Helmand, Shafiuddin, said they had nothing to eat.

"I and my family spent the night with one rotten piece of bread."

His face covered with dust, he said they had to run for their lives because bombs were falling on more and more civilians.

"I saw my neighbours killed and I saw my relatives killed in the bombing. We had no option but to run for our lives."

The Taleban said they were trying to provide food and water to these desperate people, but admitted it was not enough.

"We don't have the resources to feed them, but we're trying our best."


While passing through Spin Boldak market, heavy security was visible at Taleban offices.

Machine guns were installed on rooftops and on the busy streets.

Shops were open and it seemed to be business as usual.

However, the Taliban escort kept telling us people had gone for prayers, giving this as the reason for any apparent lack of activity.

Two trucks loaded with Russian-made rocket propelled grenades were also visible.

The Taleban fighters seemed eager to fight any American attack.

"We will teach them a lesson," bragged Samiullah, a young Taliban fighter in his mid-twenties.

Armed with a Chinese Kalashnikov, he said the Americans would never get hold of Osama.

The BBC's Feargal Keane
"A place of dust and wind"
See also:

24 Oct 01 | South Asia
Afghans discuss political future
24 Oct 01 | South Asia
Pakistan rejects militants' bodies
23 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: The tough battle for Mazar
16 Oct 01 | Americas
Why bombing can go wrong
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories