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Dr Homayoun Farid, Halo Trust demining agency
People are moving into mined areas in desperation
 real 28k

Monday, 31 July, 2000, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Taleban blames Afghans for drought
Carcass of animal
Divine retribution for ingratitude, says the Taleban
The Taleban have told the Afghan people that they are to blame for the severe drought affecting the country.

The Taleban leader, Mulla Mohammed Omar, said it was God's punishment for the people's discontent with Taleban rule, and neglect of their religious duties.

Some people in Afghanistan are not thankful for the Islamic system

Taleban statement
Correspondents say that it is believed to be the first time the supreme leader has conceded that some elements of Afghan society are unhappy with the Taleban.

The United Nations estimates that 1.6 million people are being brought to the brink of starvation by the drought, which affects between half and three-quarters of the population.

'The envy of the Muslim world'

The Taleban proclamation says that Islamic scholars have been sent dreams, explaining the cause of the drought.

Rural families in the Kandahar region
People in the southern region of Kandahar have been worst hit
"First, most people are slack in performing their great worship," the Taleban leader said in the proclamation.

"Second, some people in Afghanistan are not thankful for the Islamic Emirate and the Islamic system, nurturing discontent, unnecessary prejudice and jealousy against it," the statement said.

The proclamation said that such behaviour was a sin against God "which could prompt his tortures", and declared that its rule was the envy of the Muslim world.

Other explanations

But the BBC's correspondent in Kabul, Kate Clark, says it is is not just the Taleban who are asking why God has sent tribulation against Afghanistan.

Many people there also blame those few Afghans who do not say their prayers.

Vultures in the Thar desert
Fat times for predators across the region
Others point to the fratricidal war, now in its 23rd year, and the inability of their leaders to make peace.

And some wonder if it is the Taleban themselves who have attracted divine wrath.

After all, they say, some of the worst-hit areas are in the south of the country - the Taleban's heartland.

UN appeal

The suffering is so bad that some people have moved onto minefields to try to find pasture and water supplies.

Last month, the United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $67m to help Afghanistan cope with the drought.

The drought has also hit people in Iran, Pakistan and India - but Afghanistan, already reeling from the affects of war and UN sanctions, is suffering the most.

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See also:

06 Jun 00 | South Asia
Emergency appeal for Afghan drought
31 May 00 | South Asia
Afghan drought spreading
02 May 00 | South Asia
Appeal for Afghan drought victims
26 Apr 00 | South Asia
Drought hits southern Afghanistan
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