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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
The refugee crisis: How should the world react?
Aid agencies are warning of an epic humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, threatening the lives of millions of ordinary Afghans.

Hundreds of thousands are fleeing their homes in fear of US military strikes, trying to get to remote villages or border areas.

Agencies are organising relief efforts in neighbouring countries but international aid workers have had to leave Afghanistan itself.

The country has suffered three years of drought and food supplies are now desperately low. With winter approaching, relief agencies say millions face starvation.

Do you fear for the people of the region if military intervention causes more to want to flee? How can we deal with the humanitarian crisis?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Let's us now show these terrorists that we have not lost our human touch

Ash Hussain, England
The terrorist attacks of 11 September affected people of dozens of nations, many creeds and many colours. But, they all had two things in common: 1) they were innocent victims and 2) they were human beings. These were therefore attacks on HUMANITY. Let's us now show these terrorists that we have not lost our human touch, by feeding and helping poor and innocent Afghan people.
Ash Hussain, England

Most of the problems associated with terrorism and civil war stems from the fact that Western societies do not understand or care about the plight of Third World countries. Afghanistan has been suffering from droughts and hunger for several years now and very little has been done about it by the developed countries. A lot of the problems within Afghanistan started because of the civil war that has been raging there for the past few years.

Somehow, someone has to end all this suffering and impose a legitimate government there and we, in the West need to assist these people to achieve a better standard of living. In the short term as much aid as possible should be sent to this country, in the form of food, shelter and medical supplies. The best way of doing this is with the help of countries like Pakistan and Iran. The problem we have though is that both of these countries have a great deal of corruption so it is probable that all of the aid will not reach the people that it is intended for.
Phil T, Oman

Airdropping food would only help those terrorists stock up for themselves and starve the innocent people

Mani, India
It is characteristic of terrorists to hide behind innocent people after carrying out their terror operations. Airdropping food would only help those terrorists stock up for themselves and starve the innocent people. A decisive war to eliminate the Taleban, followed by a rebuilding operation using secular and educated Afghans would help in the long run.
Mani, India

We must start by giving respect to refugees. If our minds are free from prejudice, only then can we start to look for solutions.
RS Warburton, UK

A carrot and stick won't work. Hitting Afghanistan will be suicidal for the west. Stability in the Middle East is crucial for everybody and bombing is a recipe for more instability and violence. We should expect more violence and revolutions in that part of the world immediately after hitting Afghanistan. I urge the people of the world to denounce violence and look for ways and means of successfully bringing the right people involved to justice.
Feisal Amour, Zanzibar

This was the time to rebuild Afghanistan

Naveed Khan, Pakistan
After the downfall of the Soviet empire and their exit from Afghanistan, the US and its allies dumped the Afghans like a hot potato. Over 5 million refugees were left to fend for themselves in poor overpopulated countries like Pakistan, Iran and the CIS states. These refugees grew up in camps in conditions which can only be called horrific. This was the time to rebuild Afghanistan - the infrastructure destroyed during the Soviet occupation, install a fair and neutral government supervised by the UN assembly and provide incentives to the Afghans to return to their own country. But nothing of the kind happened and instead the misguided and bigots like the Taleban were encouraged to take advantage of the vacuum.

In an effort now to capture Osama bin Laden, we hear of armed manoeuvres like carpet bombings. Thousands of innocent victims will suffer. Horrific and disgusting as the loss of lives at the WTC and the Pentagon were, how will the situation be any different? Will the world not help in creating more hardliners like bin Laden? Justice and compassion, and not revenge, will resolve the issue.
Naveed Khan, Pakistan

The US and all the other wealthy countries could extend a gesture to the Afghans which is opposite to that expected. Namely to send in massive aid to relieve the plight of these poor people, most of whom are totally innocent just like the people in NY and Washington. It would serve the dual purpose of isolating the terrorists (they would quickly loose sympathy) and helping the suffering.
Philip S Hall, England, UK

Let's beseech all for the love the good people of the world have, which is a majority, and employ our intellectual and financial resources to find and execute viable solutions to this impending problem. Let the US be the largest contributor, and let us do it out of our love for our brothers and sisters in humanity. Let us invalidate their hatred with our acts of love - a formula that has stood the test of time. My family isn't wealthy, but we have more than we need, and we have already included in our budget a great increase in contributions to charity abroad.
Mark G., USA

Perhaps, as an act of good faith, the United Nations organizations, UNESCO et. al. could redirect the millions of dollars they spend on international gabfests towards feeding, clothing and providing medical supplies to all refugees
Grant Watt, Australia

What strike is it that the U.S. has made that these people are talking about? The U.S. military hasn't even made up their own minds as to what they are going to do. The genesis of the fear that has sent so many Afghan people fleeing towards their country's borders was the terrorist attack on America. If the WTC was still standing today with business going on as usual, we wouldn't be seeing this turmoil throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan. Maybe the fundamentalists are right, maybe America should leave them all alone. Maybe we should keep our hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid. The American government should not be dropping bombs on what they "think" is a military target, they should use covert operations to capture or kill the people responsible for the attacks in New York and Washington.
Jeff, USA

The world will have to come to grasps with the real cause of its instability: the uneven fertility of different populations. The ultimate aggression is out-breeding other cultures or groups; around the equator, most countries today are poor due to overpopulation. It will therefore be exceedingly wise to collectively pay people to keep their families small. If we are quick and use the means at our disposal, great tragedies can be avoided. Otherwise we are just at the beginning of unending suffering.
Lama Ole Nydahl, Denmark

The drumbeat of impending war rhetoric was enough to trigger this unprecedented refugee crisis. We have just made the life of ordinary, impoverished Afghans even worse. If we now bomb and blast Afghanistan, on top of this, we can rest assured we are NOT going to win friends amongst these people. Note that the Taleban are already dug in and under cover. These poor people are not. As I read, many can't even pay their fare to go away from a big city like Kabul. Let's not go in to make the holes bigger, without carefully considering the human consequences. We won't get back that which is already gone. Let the powers-on-earth-that-be truly rethink and re-evaluate all policies with global perspective for a win/win situation. It's easier to be a hero than a gentle person.
Khan Kabir, USA

The western world has to realize they cannot continue to use countries when it suits them

Mariam A Khan, Pakistan
Over a million Afghans are expected to pour into Pakistan in the next few days - if they haven't done so already. Yes, its true that they don't have a choice and that no one else will take them in. But does the world community realize what this means for Pakistan. Aid is not the answer to our problems (Pakistanis) or theirs (the refugees) Thousands of aid agencies came in during the Afghan war but what happens once those agencies start leaving the country?

Can Pakistan support another million people? Come and see the city of Peshawar - the refugees pouring out of camps - and the kind of conditions they live in. I may sound inhumane making this statement but we have seen the suffering quite closely. Someone has to put an end to this - the so-called superpowers and the western world has to realize they cannot continue to use countries when it suits them and then dump them with out even a second thought. Its human lives you're dealing with.
Mariam A Khan, Pakistan

One must examine who trained these terrorists. The Pakistan secret service ISI with the assistance of the CIA created The Taleban to be central to Pakistan's "Pan-Islamic Vision". The US turned a blind eye to the activities of the Pakistani government.

And as long as there's corruption, corporate greed, and greed for power, innocent people will continue to suffer and starve. Governments of the world should begin to question their consciences. Otherwise they will all be slaves to "money". Money is power and power corrupts the human soul. There needs to be a world wide spiritual awakening of people, of all faiths and beliefs to enable us to work together as ONE family for justice and peace. This can only be achieved with a broad scale education of the masses with love, tolerance and respect for all.
Mohammad Nazihi, USA

Everyone has been affected in someway by what happened in New York. Let's not play into the terrorists' hands. Look after the ordinary Afghans, as the Taleban have not. Compassion is not the reaction the terrorists want, so lets give it to the people they have victimised. Then we can count on support and hopefully, respect, from other Muslim nations.
Cathy, UK

Feed and shelter them of course, and don't forget medical aid. There is nothing to think about. If we are humans, this should come naturally. When it is all over send them back and give them lots of aid, money and expertise to build a better Afghanistan. Make this a showcase for how the international community can come together, not only when it is time to bash someone up, but also to help our fellow man build a future.
Dave, Singapore

Clearly the country which is going to hit most by the huge influx of refugees is Pakistan. I have witnessed the huge exodus of Afghan population in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and still a large number of those people are struggling for every penny. I wonder what will happen to those who are coming now. Truly the highest price for any war is paid by the common people
Asif Malik, Pakistan

With thousands of Afghan refugees entering Pakistan, and others trying to get into Australia, one can only wonder: Is there any opposition left in Afghanistan? The best solution for the whole world may to force potential political refugees to stay at home and change their homes, rather than flee. I know that refugees are simply individuals caught up in the storm. They are usually innocent. But domestic opposition is the best way to overthrow a regime, not intervention by foreigners.
Stephen Baker, USA

I'm sick of reading criticism towards the US regarding its foreign policies and how it's causing the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and so on more pain than their government. The US provides millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to all of these countries. More than Pakistan, more than Saudi Arabia, more than any of these countries closest neighbours. How much longer should we continue to feed these people and be criticised for it when their own government confiscates or closes down humanitarian operations. These governments have no interest in providing a stable foundation that will allow there people to sustain them selves. We must shut down these oppressive governments that use terror to control its people if we ever want to control the refugee crisis.
Jordan Medeiros, USA

I would like to take this opportunity to make one thing very clear. My message is in response to Vish's comment from the UK. Though the U.S. did use Afghanistan for its cold war motives, and the world has ignored the Taleban regime and allowed Afghanistan to suffer, all Afghans are not terrorists. We are not angry at the world and never had any goals to bring harm to America. The Taleban are different from the Afghan people. Not all Germans were Nazis. It is not a coincidence that none of the hijackers were Afghan. It is important that people know this.
BH, Canada

The Taliban's arrogance is causing this problem

Marc Graham, San Jose Ca, USA
To think the US is somehow wrong in responding to these attacks militarily is ridiculous and exactly according to the terrorists' plans. The US has been giving food aid to Afghanistan to the tune of $170 million per year and look where it got us. The Taliban's arrogance is causing this problem. Did they really think they could shelter Bin Laden and not suffer the consequences.
Marc Graham, San Jose Ca, USA

We should help those who are in need and provide supplies to them. The best way to deal with refugees is to support and improve their own countries and give them all they need to build up their new home. Peace and love are the best solutions NOT war.
Jupiter, USA

Won't it be a wonderful irony when the the frozen assets of global terrorists get turned around and all those millions get used to supply the suffering refugees with food, medicine and clothes
Pat Donovan, USA

Many international celebrities are releasing benefit albums, concerts, hotlines or telethons for thousands of American victims' families. What about the millions of Afghan refugees facing starvation?
Neil Austin, Canada

Knowingly punishing the terrorists at the cost of innocent lives is a far bigger crime

Khalid Ismail, Pakistan
It would be shameful if the world left the refugees alone. We should help them in any case because they are innocent people and have the same right as the other nations to live in this world. The USA should first check out the suspect of the crime and punish/kill them with their full resources and make sure that there is no loss of innocent lives, only the law breakers and terrorists. Knowingly punishing the terrorists at the cost of innocent lives is a far bigger crime.
Khalid Ismail, Pakistan

We should use what happened to Germany and Japan after WWII as a model. They turned out pretty good. We learned after WWI that punishing countries instead of helping them get on their feet breeds evil. The world is too small now. We all must care about our neighbours.
Dave M, USA

Give them food and let them stay at home. But remember we will still get the terrorists. They are not going to escape.
JK Morgon, Saudi Arabia

It is very important that Americans realise that it is their policies in the Middle East that created this problem in the first place. By attacking Afghans they will only reinforce that hatred. It is imperative that they bring whatever evidence they have found of Bin Laden's involvement to international attention so that people know that these attacks are really being carried out to crush the terrorists not the ordinary Afghans. By helping the ordinary people they will be in effect giving the message that they are not really going after the innocents for revenge but are in fact going for the justice. Let the world see the positive and humane side of Uncle Sam. Give us some hope of peace for the future, not another long Afghan war.
Muzair Khan, Pakistan

An injustice has been done to the USA. But that cannot be healed by revenge. Innocents have been killed. But that cannot be healed by killing more innocents. The guilty go scot-free and the innocents pay in attacks and counterattacks. That makes the situation worse. Let us wish and pray for a world where peace is fostered.
Kuruvilla Pandikattu, India

The US has supplied more money in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan than any other country. What good has it done for the poor? Money and aid does not help. In fact, most of the aid that the US gives third world countries is wasted by the people in power in those nations.
Ron, USA

Refugee crises the world over can be attributed to our fits and starts of commitment

Rebecca Spencer, USA
Prior to September 11, the average American paid precious little attention to the rest of the world. While we do give a lion's share of aid to third world countries, our size and relative lack of conscience unfortunately reflects badly in the eyes of the rest of the world. We end up playing catch up to each time something catches our attention. This results in erratic policies and incomplete action. Refugee crises the world over can be attributed to our fits and starts of commitment.
Rebecca Spencer, USA

I feel very sorry for the poor people of Afghanistan and many other Islamic countries where influential men take over the country, line their pockets with wealth and luxuries, then ignore the plight of their people. Britain and the US spend billions of dollars on overseas aid. Many of our people work in terrible conditions to help the starving and ill. When will the Islamic, African and Asian worlds wake up to the fact that, politics aside, the west is full of very caring people? But we must all stand together to fight these criminals who slaughter women and children.
Kevin Read, England

The pentagon's deployment of bombers is not infinite justice for the WTC attacks. It will not eliminate Osama Bin Laden, it will only push him into other countries that are willing to harbour him. Justice is providing massive amounts of aid to the Afghan refugees. Then we will not need to hunt down the terrorists - the Islamic people will do it for us. I would rather half my standard of living and know that innocent lives are being saved rather than allowing apathy to set in.
Stan East, USA

Bomb the innocent in Afghanistan and you have bred another army of angry people looking for revenge

Rab Nawaz, Vietnam
Terrorism is bred by the deprivation of basic rights of liberty, honour and justice. As long as the west and America are perceived to be the guarantors of selective application of international law terrorism will prosper. Bomb the innocent in Afghanistan and you have bred another army of angry people looking for revenge.
Rab Nawaz, Vietnam

These are still people. Let's not forget that. The ordinary folk have done nothing wrong.
Maureen Allcoat, UK

The west has forced these people out of their homes. Afghanistan has been used as a cold war pawn and then forgotten. Its people were left to suffer. Why didn't the west do anything when the Taleban first took power? Why have they sat here and watched them torture their own people? Now that it is in their interest suddenly "we must get rid of the Taleban". Why must the innocent suffer and why has food aid been suspended to Afghanistan? Is it any wonder that people are willing to die to hurt the US?
Vish, UK

Unfortunately in war it's the innocents who suffer and pictures of refugees being beaten back from the Afghan/Pakistan border could not have moved few of us. Thousands will be hurt or killed and in my view Afghanistan has been left to cope with US reprisals while the real perpetrators will have evacuated the area. The country has been effectively left without a social or financial framework by the existing government and I feel it may be a red herring designed to infuriate the Muslim community and enhance a holy war. On the other side the refugees will need our compassion and respect to get them through this crisis but there is a real danger that the media will incite hostility and racism against the very people who will really suffer over the next few weeks
Becky Harris, UK

We cannot afford to display the naivety that international diplomacy usually exhibits

Kurian Mathew, India
A lot of suspicious people will enter Pakistan, Iran and other places disguised as refugees. How will we filter them out? When dealing with these deceptive Muslim terrorists we cannot afford to display the naivety that international diplomacy usually exhibits.
Kurian Mathew, India

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. The Afghanis have already been ravaged by 10 years of war only to suffer at the hands of the extremist Taleban regime. We cannot let these people suffer any longer. Let all nations unite and provide some kind of humanitarian relief to the refugees. Additional aid should be provided to Pakistan and other countries that are absorbing them. When all countries are forming a coalition in war, let's all unite in the name of peace to provide shelter, food and hope to the refugees. Every human life is precious, be it in Manhattan or Kandahar.
Ishrat Jehan, USA

It appears that the situation is going to get worse before it stabilizes. Non-government agencies like Oxfam will find it hard to help refugees with weapons of destruction on their way to the region. Afghan refugees need our protection and compassion.
Namara, Canada

I've heard this sentence too many times: "The attack on Afghanistan won't be directed toward innocent people, only toward terrorists." A similar sentiment was repeated during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. But despite all that, those bombs killed 1500 innocent people. I suppose that they were killed unintentionally but this doesn't mean anything to them or their families. They were shamefully referred to as "collateral damage". Are we going to cause more "collateral damage" in Afghanistan? If we support bombings, we support the killing of innocent people and putting those still alive in an inhumane position. The world must try to find a way to punish terrorists, while helping these poor innocent people.
Aleksandra, Belgrade,Yugoslavia

Distribute the extra aid the UK International Development Minister Clare Short has just announced and heed her calls to Tony Blair not to massacre the innocent in Afghanistan.
Mick, London, UK

We already give them support, as we do almost all nations who need it

Neily, USA
The point is! We already give them support, as we do almost all nations who need it. I do not support attacking innocent people, nor do most Americans. It is not our responsibility to feed the world, it is not our responsibility to intervene in any crisis, but we do it anyway, because we care! We are a nation of great strengths and great weaknesses, we are not perfect. But, we are not the nation portrayed by those who are saying this is our fault. No ONE deserves what happened to us, and that includes Afghanistan. If only they knew how a majority of us really feel. We are a nation who needs to learn from our mistakes, but also should be forgiven.
Neily, USA

Even though it is tough to acknowledge, people of Afghanistan have been suffering since the Afghan war, when the United States suddenly stopped all support after Russia pulled out. They have been living on aid. It is but natural of America to respond to the crisis in a military way. But it has to be also careful that it does not become the terrorist in the eyes of the many Afghan children, when they lose their loved ones.
Harsha Wardhan, India

It's sad that these innocent people are being used as political pawns in a war of words between the Taliban and the US. The best the US can do is show willing to help these people with food - but the responsibility of ensuring their safety is ultimately that of the Taliban, and at the moment it seems more interested with pursuing its own goals than looking after its people. The US and western aid hold both the key to life and the key to destruction - I don't think the Taliban is really in a position to be negotiating when its people are facing starvation.

The US donates billions of taxpayers' dollars to 3rd world countries. US Non-governmental Organizations provide highly trained professionals, resources and funds to these countries. It eludes me as to why the oil rich countries in Asia do not assist in humanitarian efforts as we do. It is not a stretch to believe the Taleban will confiscate the supplies for themselves. Why is it bin Laden does not provide humanitarian relief and subsistence to the Afghan people?
Lori, USA

This is a fight for values and for the establishment of morality

Ekta Thaker, India
This is a fight for values and for the establishment of morality, truth, peace and harmony. It says that evil should die so that the good can survive. If the US is not able to help the innocent Afghan refugees, how will it justify the stand it has chosen to take?
Ekta Thaker, India

Since the governments of western countries, specifically the British Government, have admitted training the cadres that made up the Taleban, therefore contributing to the present crisis, it stands to reason that the countries of the west should take up the burden of the refugees from Afghanistan.
Vinod Moonesinghe, Sri Lanka

I, as many people in the USA and throughout the world, am hurt by what I have seen but cannot even begin to imagine the terror and pain felt by so many. I speak as an American and a human being. Our intent is not to attack the Afghan people but the terrorists who attack innocent people. If anyone is to blame, it's the Taleban, by refusing to turn over evil and putting the people of their land at risk. We as a civilized world need to help the refugees with food, clothing and shelter during this crisis. I hope and pray for a miracle to stop these senseless killings, protect our military men and women and protect all innocent people.
DeAnn, USA

By supporting and rehabilitating the refugees the western world can show it's determination to stamp out terrorism and not merely exact retribution upon Muslims as a race.
Paul Robertson, UK

These are the conditions that Afghanistan has been reduced to by five years of Taleban government. Let's give the Afghan people a real alternative to the Taleban. Let's deliver aid directly, and make sure they know who it's from.
Henry Case, UK

Instead of spending billions on making more martyrs, the US should spend it on the refugees

Paul, South Africa
Maybe it is time to turn the other cheek and instead of spending billions on making more martyrs, the US should spend it on the refugees. If the west is as Christian and civilized as it claims then there cannot be any indiscriminate bombing.
Paul, South Africa

Now that the humanitarian organisations have fled, the situation in Afghanistan is so nightmarishly bad that even if the US decided not to attack Afghanistan, thousands of people will likely starve within the country's drought-inflicted borders. But if the international community does not help Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan feed the refugees stranded on Afghanistan's closed borders, those thousands of deaths could turn into millions.
Sina Yousefi, USA

The USA should target Taleban headquarters, eliminate them first then go for Bin Laden. If civilians are killed the purpose is defeated. Then there will be no difference between terrorists and the US.
Peter Smith, USA

There are currently two million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and a further 1.8 million in Iran. The world has so far been happy to see them languish there. Why should a few million more make any difference? Surely if George Bush and the world can allocate $20 billion dollars or more to an anti-terrorist campaign he could just as easily allocate that spending to diminish human suffering and not add to it.
R Tolkien, Australia

The mass exodus of refugees will add fuel to the fire of terrorism

Sikander, USA
The real victims of this terror at home and abroad are innocent people. The mass exodus of refugees will add fuel to the fire of terrorism. With nowhere to go for a decent life, what choice do we offer these displaced people? The US will make a million new enemies. Brute force never solves anything.
Sikander, USA

What the US is doing is showing its frustration while insuring its citizens that they are safe. Without any proof the biggest democracy in the world is attacking innocent people. In taking this wrong step the US might terminate Afghans but it will surely gain more enemies.
Jahanzeb Khurram, Pakistan

It is a devastating situation concerning ordinary Afghans fleeing their home to neighbouring countries and the border areas. Afghanistan is a country torn to pieces by 800 years of continuous war and invasion. Recent western outrages have made Afghanistan one of the poorest countries in the world. Innocent civilians, not Osama Bin Laden, are going to be affected by the oncoming so-called "American war against terrorism". Let no one forget the innocent 20 million people.
Faheem Moor, Germany

I find the Taleban to be cowards who hide behind fleeing refugees. I pray that God will be with each and every person as they flee their homes for protection. I am sure the United States will do all that is possible to aid refugees that have made it past the Afghan borders.
Buddy Wilkinson, Alabama, USA

Military action is nothing but a show of force. The Americans will be lucky to knock off any terrorists. It might only scare them. This strike is going to achieve nothing. The US and its allies would be better off taking a leaf from the page of Israel's book on reprisals - never let the enemy know what you are up to. There are millions of Afghans facing starvation. You have got yourself an army of malcontents there so spread the rumour that Bin Laden is responsible and we can encourage an uprising. By providing food, medicine, clothing and money for housing and clean water we can build a weapon that causes greater destruction than a few bombs.
Gary Evans, Canada

As soon as the cold war was over America left Afghanistan to fend for itself. How America can even think of dispensing infinite justice now is beyond me.
Andrew, England

We should continue to help the Afghan refugees. The thorny question is how do we help these people when the Taleban have forced the aid workers to leave and have done nothing to relieve the plight of their own people? This is an even greater human tragedy for which the Taleban are fully responsible.
Sarah Rankin, UK

We cannot have starving masses on our conscience. Let us not forget the Holocaust

Margaret Quinn, Scotland
With thousands fleeing to the borders with Pakistan surely food could be given there. This would lessen the chance of aid being distributed to Taleban supporters. We cannot have starving masses on our conscience. Let us not forget the Holocaust.
Margaret Quinn, Scotland

The suffering of the Afghan people is truly a tragedy, but I find myself in the uncomfortable situation of supporting a ground war against the Taleban. What other option do we have? How much suffering can the world endure from organised terror? A ground war seems to be the most logical answer, since air strikes will only further the strength of the Taleban and result in massive casualties of innocent civilians. Talk of disarming the worldwide terrorist network will not be solved by military force, as Bush seems to think. In order to disarm the terrorists the policy makers in America should examine the motives of these terrorist groups.

While it would be ridiculous to change our policies I find our unwavering military and financial support of Israel to be a sore point among Arabs. Hungry people living under US-supported dictatorships do not really have a favourable outlook towards US policies. The outlook is dismal. American policy will not change, and military action against "rogue" states will continue. In the short term a ground assault against the Taleban will solve the immediate problem, but in the long run we still need to address the imbalances in American foreign policy.
Mark Ghazal, Chicago, USA

To bomb or invade Afghanistan would be pointless. It will not rid the world of terrorism, even if bin Laden is captured. Iraq has been bombed and has had sanctions imposed against it for years, yet it is still suspected of being involved in terrorism. A war will not destroy terrorism and people should never be sucked into thinking that it will. Subterfuge would be a better option. Do not listen to the warmongers! Plus, where is all the evidence we have been promised?
Mark, UK

The coalition countries and those involved in this war on terrorism should prepare to provide the humanitarian aid required for the thousands of refugees who will be affected, as well as establishing a politically stable nation for them to return to.
Mel Armstrong, USA

The fundamentalists blame everyone else's culture, religion and politics for their internal problems. They have hijacked the Koran like Hitler hijacked Christianity. They have committed blasphemy against their own people and religion. Unfortunately I think this will be a very bloody conflict. We must be prepared to be as ruthless and savage as our enemy.
Lou, New York, USA

Again, I must try to educate other correspondents to this section who are under the impression that no aid has been given to Afghanistan. The US has long given aid to Afghanistan and was the number one contributor prior to the actions of two weeks ago. Americans are keenly aware of how much foreign aid we give through our taxes, so we are the foremost experts on the subject. As for the refugees, they are assembled along the Pakistani and Iranian borders and will not be harmed by America's military assault. The targets will be the Taleban rulers and the southern province where bin Laden is currently hiding. Once the Taleban fall, the US will install a democratic government that will be stable and ultimately prosperous. The Taleban will be removed for the good of mankind.
John Morgan, USA

Where were we all when Afghanistan was taken over by the Taleban regime?

Dick, Belgium
How come we all know about these poor living conditions for years now, but are able to react only when the almighty US spends billions on its military intervention. Millions of people live in inhuman conditions every day, and not only when some super nation (only requiring the backup of its European allies as an alibi for its actions) decides to raise its voice. Where were we all when Afghanistan was taken over by the Taleban regime?
Dick, Belgium

Perhaps if we used military aircraft to drop food to refugees, warplanes from the US and other countries will not be seen as bringing death to Afghans, but hope.
Clive, UK

I cannot recall a time when I have felt more angry and frustrated than I do right now. Feeling powerless to stop the disproportionate build- up of military might to be used against a people that have surely suffered enough already. What happened on September 11 was obscene and disgusting and I am not for a moment suggesting that those behind this atrocity should not face justice. However, I do not accept that this must inevitably require the cessation of essential humanitarian aid to the innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan who will perish without this aid. To stop this programme just because of a fear that some of the food delivered might fall into the hands of the Taleban is at best misguided, but at worst sinking to a similar level of disregard for the preservation of innocent human life as underpinned by the original atrocity.

Call me naive, but I thought and hoped that the planned action against the perpetrators of this atrocity was being conducted in the name of freedom and democracy for the sake of everything that we hold dear - and to avoid setting up the conditions for the next outrage, please let us ensure that any military action taken is well away from the civilian population and is not used as an excuse to halt essential humanitarian aid to the region.
Bernie Middlehurst, UK

It distresses me to read and hear so many people, often from the USA, who still speak of revenge and retaliation against the Afghans, or at least speak with little concern for them. The fact that the US gave millions of dollars to the Taleban has just helped to strengthen the regime that we now want out of the way. The fact that the US has overlooked drought, starvation, and the human rights abuses against women is disgusting as well. I cannot come up with a magical solution in two sentences, but I do hope that the USA and other wealthy nations offer aid to Afghanistan, and distinguish between aiding the Afghans and opposing the Taleban.
T Schlossberg, USA

Overthrowing the Taleban and installing a democratic government will not work. It is not possible to force democracy onto a country and culture that is not based on democracy. Take many African democratic experiments - it only takes one leader with despotic aspirations to destroy the country again. And that argument is only based on the idea that the US might install a democracy for the good of Afghanistan and its people. If the US would even consider installing a democracy, it would only be to further its economic interests and military stranglehold on Asia. This cannot be allowed. Western influence has interfered for too long.
Jon, UK

I believe the key to dealing with the refugees is the same way we have always handled it, with compassion. Our anger isn't directed toward them, we should extend our hand, help them to rebuild their irrigation systems, rebuild their farms, and feed them through the coming winter. This is the way to win the war on terrorism...destroy the hatred.
Don Ware, USA

We can start by shipping tents, food and medical supplies to the border towns of Pakistan

Tom Thompson, USA
The US can, and should help in any way possible to ease the suffering of the Afghan people. We can start by shipping tents, food and medical supplies to the border towns of Pakistan.
Tom Thompson, USA

As the US and its allies perform military operations in Afghanistan, they should also be prepared to provide humanitarian relief (careful of terrorism even in those they help) to feed the hungry, treat the ill or injured and care for the needs of the helpless innocents. The US and allies should rely heavily on ground and airborne robotic weapons to reduce injuries to troops.
Jimmy Slife, USA

How can we ever free the world from terrorism? How can a war be just if even one innocent is caught in the crossfire? I only have questions.
Angela, UK

We should be dealing with the root of the problem and not the result. The result in this case is the refugees. If these people had a decent, democratically elected government then they would not be in the situation they are in. It is either black or white. Either take over these countries and force a government upon them as fairly as possible or leave them well alone. There can be no in between. I will not be giving any donations to Afghan refugees.
A Knott, Canada

I not only fear for the Afghans, I fear for the whole world. An attack on Afghanistan will play into the hands of the terrorists and more people will sign up to fight against the U.S. and its allies. The Afghan people will suffer even more than they already have. Instead, let's try a new way - getting to the roots of the problems -and one way is to help the poor of the world, particularly with education.
Toc Dunlap, USA

I agree with the comments made that all the world should help in some way or other to help save the Afghan people from starvation. Today every newspaper and TV broadcast has something to say on Afghanistan and provide pictures of people who are in hectic conditions. Is this not a wake-up call for us to also contribute to help save the Afghan people. They need us!
Celia, South Africa

Why can't we start trying to be one humanity?

Debbie, United Arab Emirates
We can deal with the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan by preventing it from happening. The millions of dollars being spent on this campaign of so-called justice could be better spent in helping the people of Afghanistan and Palestine and Iraq build a better life in their own countries; a life which will make the Taleban and other terrorist groups redundant. Remove the root causes of terrorism: anger, despair, and the vicious cycle of violence that has been bred by insensitive US foreign policies and senseless military attacks. After all, every human life is precious, even those that are Afghan, Iraqi, or Palestinian. We are one world. Why can't we start trying to be one humanity?
Debbie, United Arab Emirates

You can start by providing them with the proof that their government is actually behind the attacks. So far we've seen nothing but speculation and a heavy military build up.
Ahmed, UK

To avoid the imminent humanitarian crisis, we (the west) must seek other options different from a military strike. How can we possibly think violence will solve violence. We must tackle the problem from the heart and not to take actions for personal or political gain. These are human beings we are talking about, not pests.
Meftahul Haider, UK

I believe the rich countries must help out the poor Afghan people. The Afghan people have been left no choice except to flee to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, itself a poor country with a population of 140 million people. Pakistan is in no financial position to provide Afghan refugees with the basic amenities of life. And when one considers the fact that there are more Afghan refugees in Pakistan than the entire population of Belgium, the scale of the tragedy becomes evident. The US must face up to its responsibility: the main problems of Afghanistan are religious extremism, gun-culture, and drugs. The least it can do now is help the innocent victims of the US political agenda.
Sadia Sheikh, Pakistan

Oxfam and the like are harming the Free World's efforts by their misguided aid activities

Alistair Kelman, UK
This is not a time for liberal, huggie, touchie-feelie policies. Any food aid given to Afghanistan will help support the Taleban either directly or indirectly. If the people of Afghanistan are hungry let them rise up and throw out their government. Oxfam and the like are harming the Free World's efforts by their misguided aid activities.
Alistair Kelman, UK

This is a response to Glen Jones' comment: I am just wondering where he got the idea that the USA or anyone for that matter gives aid to Afghanistan, it is simply not true Glen. Have you ever seen the living conditions over there?
John Keegans, United Kingdom

Western countries should help to these refugees by providing food. Western governments are not going to allow them to come their countries. But they can provide food.
Senthil, Canada

The west should aid them to form good and secure government

Viji Palaniappan, USA / India
If the west want to give asylum, it should give it to all Afghan people. So giving asylum is not the proper solution to solve these poor insecure Afghan people problems. The west should aid them to form good and secure Government then rest will follow.
Viji Palaniappan, USA / India

The United States has given millions of dollars in relief aid to Afghanistan in the last year alone. No one has said thank you, and people in the region dance over the bodies in New York. They swear a holy war for trying to defend ourselves from terror. Americans are not perfect, God knows, but it is hard to feel charitable in the face of such attitudes.
Glen Jones, USA

Afghanistan is already ravaged by war and famine as it has been for more than two decades. The immediate duty of the entire world is to assist the neighbouring countries to cope with this crisis and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, not just pay lip service. What Afghans need more than anything is peace and security in their country and not further devastation. But till that day the richer nations must do their share and absorb these proud and hardworking people. The West has to help the Afghans as they too share a responsibility in their present plight and future.
Amena Khan, Pakistan

Afghanistan was one bleeding wound that was not treated and became severely infected

Girish VK, USA
Afghanistan was one bleeding wound that was not treated and became severely infected as a result of the events of the 1980s. Result: Taliban and Osama. I hope America do not make the same mistake after eliminating Taliban and Osama. I sincerely hope they help the Afghan people rebuild their country.
Girish VK, USA

There are millions of Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan. Only a few can find refuge in far off countries. Now the problem involves staggering number of people. The international agencies supported by the rich countries should help these refugees. The world community should help in bringing peace to the war-torn country so that the people may go back and re-start their life in their own country.
Prof.Mukhtar Ali Naqvi, USA

The Soviet Union Invaded Afghanistan to extend their empire. The USA used Afghanistan to defeat the Soviet empire. When the work was accomplished, 1 million Afghans had died 4 million had been displaced. USA left the scene, as if it was no longer their issue. This gave a chance to the cowards like Osama to fill the GAP. The tragedy of terrorism is the tragedy of the Afghan People.
Naveed Khan, USA

The more the west help Afghanistan, the more they will turn against western societies

Naveed Syed, Pakistan
The more the west help Afghanistan, the more they will turn against western societies. We left Iran on its own for 20 years, and Iran is calm now. We should not help 3rd world countries at all. Let nature takes its course, even if it means the death of millions.
Naveed Syed, Pakistan

I don't think the west should take them in but instead allow surrounding states to give them refuge so there is no loss of innocent lives and only the law breakers and terrorists are punished. Knowingly punishing the terrorists at the cost of innocent lives is a far bigger crime.
Yogita, Portland, USA

At this juncture of global crisis, America should provide food, shelter and medicine to those Afghan refugees who are on the brink of death. This is an opportunity for the USA to show the world, particularly the Muslims, that America's intention is not to kill innocent people but to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime that took place on 11th September, to justice. This will amply demonstrate that America stands for humanity and freedom.
Roy, UK

We cannot allow ourselves to give in to individuals that have no care for human life

Michael Meisenhelter, USA
I consider myself like most Americans extremely patriotic. I served in the US Marine Corps for 8 years. We need to stand with or principles and our laws that were created for everyone. As we help ourselves in the aftermath of such a horrible act of terrorism we cannot allow ourselves to give in to individuals that have no care for human life. The question that is asked whether we should help those Afghanis that are in need is one that perplexes me. I will give you a quote from a US poet Emma Lazarus (1849 - 1887):.
"With silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Michael Meisenhelter, USA

It's right for the west and Russia to provide financial aid for Pakistan and Iran to house the refugees from Afghanistan. We should realise that Afghanistan is now one among the poorest of nations. A military strike against Afghanistan cannot help achieve the US goals of combating terrorism. I hope the US wins its cause and the civilians don't get hurt, although it is very unlikely, unfortunately.
Dileep, India/USA

Afghans are not terrorists. We are the proud people of the world who have crushed every superpower with empty hands. We don't need your help, all we ask is leave us alone. It was and has been the west that destroyed Afghanistan and now you are coming to kill innocent people.
Dr. Akbary, USA

The US-led allies should overthrow the Taleban regime and install a moderate democratic regime in Afghanistan. All terrorist training camps should be closed in this war ravaged country. Long and sustained presence of US troops in that country would stabilise the region and improve the conditions that Afghans live in.
Anil, USA

The Afghan tragedy is a fallout of the tussle between the two superpowers

Akif Nizam, USA
I think that the West and Russia should give incentives to Pakistan and Iran to accommodate these refugees on a temporary basis. These countries are already harbouring over 5 million refugees anyway. The Afghan tragedy is a fallout of the tussle between the two superpowers and I think it's only fair for them to carry the burden of this exodus.
Akif Nizam, USA

The West, especially the USA, should help these refugees. Its "WAR" scares these women and kids and leaves them with nowhere to go. It's time for USA to show its humanity and how it can only attack the terrorists without hurting the innocent people.
Lkoh, Hong Kong

Do not expect any Western country to be prepared to take in any number of Afghan refugees. There is always the chance that one or two might be terrorist sympathisers or worse. On the other hand, giving them aid is not only charitable but also the best way to show them that the West is not the enemy of ordinary Afghan people.
Peter, Europe

As the attack is looming over Afghanistan, the innocent Afghan people are sure to suffer. Attacks on civilian areas for the manhunt of a single person (Osama bin Laden) are not praiseworthy in any way. If the US and it's allies decide to attack Afghanistan, they must ascertain the security of the civilians at first. The west must have to shoulder the burden of the Afghans seeking refugee.
Rajan Kafle, Nepal

Before we attack, we should begin a massive operation to provide food and shelter to these people

Tom Lazarus, USA
Aiding the ordinary Afghanis is absolutely necessary. Even before we attack, and destroy their Taliban oppressors, we should begin a massive operation to provide food and shelter to these people. In no other way could we better defuse the criticism that we are unfairly targeting Islam.

It is sadly true that our oil-beholden policies in the Middle East have until now been morally bankrupt. This is an opportunity to make a fresh start with these people that we cannot possibly ignore. If we let millions of innocent Afghanis die for the sins of their tyrants, we will just make an already terrible situation worse.
Tom Lazarus, USA

Exodus has meant the professionals and middle class leave first. What will be left in Afghanistan? Give people the incentives to stay and change the country from within. The people of Afghanistan have never had a representative government in the twentieth century.

The prospect in 21st Century is bleak for the whole Central Asia. Rogue States like in Africa will become the common feature there. Close down the breeding ground of fanatics - in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and do a ground up nation-building. A long 20 year program.
Mo Ahmed, San Clemente, CA, USA

The US has always used Pakistan for its own purposes and left it to face all the problems of their own creating. Once again Pakistan is helping the US and again is going to face humanitarian crisis and protests because of the US. The US should provide money or grants for humanitarian aid and economic revival of the country.
M. Unriz, Pakistan

Let us not hurt the innocent in our effort to right a wrong

O M Holowach, New Jersey, USA
A week after the fact, I went to the beach, looked at the horizon and saw the smoky residue from the World Trade Center attack. Ground zero is 75 miles away. Like the smoke, the terror is wrapping its tentacles around the world. All this hatred and search for retribution is spreading and polluting the world. Let us not hurt the innocent in our effort to right a wrong.
O M Holowach, Lakewood, New Jersey, USA

We could start to help this situation by providing the poor and starving with food aid rather than shower them with bombs!
AH, Scotland

The people of Afghanistan are not the criminals, but they may be without hope. Let the massive force be assembled, fly over Afghanistan and drop food. With a bit of hope and food on the table perhaps the West will get their prime suspect.
Pam, Ipswich,UK

Listen now
... to both sides of the debate
See also:

21 Sep 01 | South Asia
Millions of Afghans face starvation
14 Sep 01 | South Asia
Aid agencies warn of Afghan crisis
20 Sep 01 | South Asia
Afghan exodus still growing
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