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Thousands of Afghan Civilians Starving; 

US and Allies ignore Humanitarian Crisis On Human Rights Day 



US Groups Condemn "Widespread Violations of the Right to Food"


Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,  12 December 2001


(New York, NY, December 10, 2001) - Thousands of civilians face starvation due to violations of the right to food by all parties to the Afghanistan conflict, warned a letter released on International Human Rights Day by a coalition of US-based organizations. The letter requests the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Swiss professor Jean Ziegler, to call for "immediate measures to prioritize humanitarian relief and prevent further violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."

The military collapse of the Taliban was expected to ease the food crisis in Afghanistan. But this has not happened. Instead, a deadly combination of lawlessness among Northern Alliance factions and closed borders by neighboring states is continuing to block life-saving aid from reaching millions of destitute civilians. Time is running out, with winter snows already closing access to parts of the country.

"The United States could prevent the impending catastrophe by insisting that its allies in the Northern Alliance and border states respect the basic rights of Afghan civilians and guarantee the free movement of food aid," says Roger Normand, Executive Director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights. "There is something wrong when our government can pressure Afghanistan and its neighbors to permit the establishment of major new US military bases but not the free passage of humanitarian aid to save thousands of starving civilians."

"The parties to the conflict, and the international community as a whole, do have the means to avert yet another humanitarian disaster in this war-torn and beleaguered country," says Mr. Ziegler. "They are morally and legally obligated to use them. They must immediately undertake a massive relief effort based upon well established principles of full and unobstructed humanitarian access to civilians, freedom of movement for all displaced persons and refugees, and a strict separation of military and humanitarian objectives."

The public letter to the UN expert is signed by the American Friends Service Committee, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Food First Institute, Grassroots International, MADRE, the Mennonite Central Committee and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. 

The full text of the letter is available at http://www.cesr.org/Emergency%20Response/afghanistan.htm.

For More Information Contact:

Roger Normand, CESR Executive Director, 718-237-9145 ext. 16, [email protected]

Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, 011-41-22-906-5956

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