The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has warned that the advance of the opposition Northern Alliance in Afghanistan is making it more difficult to alleviate the suffering of the country’s impoverished population.
Spokesman Kris Janowski urged the Alliance to respect the civilian population and not to attack people delivering aid to those who once lived under Taliban control.
The UN World Food Programme has already expressed concern about the rise of the Northern Alliance, saying many of its local lorry drivers are afraid of being attacked because of the uncertain situation in the country.
Chulho Hyan, a spokesman for the UN children’s fund UNICEF, warned that the shifting balance of power in Afghanistan will not alleviate the humanitarian crisis.
He cautioned that 100,000 children could die because relief supplies are not arriving in sufficient quantities.
There are also fears that the Northern Alliance, which is largely comprised of ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, may take revenge against the civilian populations in areas formerly controlled by the Taliban.
These areas are populated mainly by ethnic Pashtuns, the same ethnic group as the Taliban.
In Kabul, which the Northern Alliance seized last night in defiance of a request from the US, troops are roaming the city in search of any Taliban fighters which may not have fled the city.
The bodies of five Pakistanis, reportedly killed in a shootout, were seen lying in a park today. The bodies of two Arabs were also seen on a street with rocket-launchers and a rifle beside them.
There are also reports that some warehouses storing humanitarian supplies have been looted, but it is unclear if the Taliban stole the stocks before they fled Kabul or if the Northern Alliance troops were responsible.