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Europe

UN Concerned about Afghan Civilians

"Afghan civilians should not become the indirect victims of the September 11 attacks on the United States": Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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An Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Mary Robinson said on Tuesday that she was worried about Afghan civilians in cities falling to the Northern Alliance, some of whose leaders had a history of rights abuses. She was speaking at a human rights conference in New Delhi.

"When territory has changed hands in recent years in Afghanistan, there has been a terrible massacre of civilians, raping of woman, a retaliatory sort of destruction by whoever comes in to take a town or a city," she told a news conference.

Speaking as U.S.-backed anti-Taliban fighters from the Northern Alliance entered the Afghan capital Kabul, she urged the United States and Britain to make it very clear that civilian massacres and human rights violations would not be tolerated.

"A number of those who are leading the Northern Alliance have very bad records of violations of human rights and I'm extremely concerned that they might be part of a future power structure," she added.

Washington had appealed to the Northern Alliance not to enter Kabul, where it is deeply unpopular among the capital's mainly Pashtun population and remembered for bloody power struggles in the 1990s that killed about 50,000 residents.

Let the civilian population, who have a long history of being the sufferers of changing hands of the territory between the forces in Afghanistan, have a primary say in their future and formation of the government, Robinson said.

She stressed that the military strategy to counter terrorism should be based on two guiding principles of necessity and proportion of the action to avoid injuries to innocents. Robinson, however, said whether the same was being followed by US was a matter to be decided by the UN Security Council.