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Afghanistan: UNHCR offices closed after attacks

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: UNHCR offices closed after attacks

16 November 1999

UNHCR closed its offices in Afghanistan for a day after crowds enraged by the prospect of UN sanctions against the Taliban regime went on rampage against UNHCR facilities earlier this week. UNHCR offices in Kabul and Farah were ransacked and burned. UNHCR staff members remain in Afghanistan but are in their residences. Five UNHCR international staff remain in the country.

UNHCR has protested to the Taliban authorities over their failure to provide adequate protection to our premises.

An angry mob of about 1,000 people, who appeared to be well organized, ransacked UNHCR's Kabul office Sunday, shattering windows, forcing open doors and destroying furniture and office equipment. UNHCR vehicles parked outside were also demolished.

On Monday, in the town of Farah, some 300 km north of Herat, demonstrators set fire to the UNHCR compound, burning it to the ground.

The violence was directed against property rather than UNHCR staff who were allowed to leave the premises unharmed.