United Nations' High Commissioner For Refugees Holds First Round Of Talks With Taliban

Ruud Lubbers, United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees, has held the first round of talks with the Talib leadership in Kandahar. The Commissioner continues his 10-day tour of three countries -- Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- to have an insight into the situation Afghan refugees are faced with in the conditions of the continuing military actions and an unheard-of drought. According to the United Nations estimates, over 800,000 citizens of Afghanistan were forced to become displaced persons. The Taliban offensive in northern Afghanistan last summer and hunger due to the most severe drought over the past 30 years brought in floods of migrants. Some refugees fleeing from the advancing Taliban moved to the country's north, in particular to the flood-lands of the river Panj, bordering on Tajikistan, which is controlled by the opposition forces. Some 500,000 people left for the west and north-west of the country. Their majority settled in camps near the town of Herat. Mr Lubbers visited Mislakh, the largest of the six similar camps. This overcrowded camp accommodates over 100,000 Afghans lacking for food and medicaments. The provision of humanitarian aid to this category of people was discussed at a Kandahar meeting between the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Talib leaders.

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