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Afghanistan Women Plead for Help

April 28, 1999

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Afghan women demonstrated outside the U.N. offices in Pakistan on Wednesday to plead for help against the ruling Taliban and the opposition forces seeking to topple the government.

The group lashed out at world leaders and the media, saying Afghanistan has received only sporadic notice while the plight of refugees from Kosovo has received extensive attention.

``We get only silence from the international community ... we need help,″ said Huma Saeed, a spokesman for the group, led by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

The small but vocal group of Afghan women activists is based in Pakistan and manages to function despite numerous threats.

In the 90 percent of Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban, women have been forced off the job and schools for girls have been closed. Health care is segregated and there are complaints of insufficient doctors, beds and medicine for women.

Demonstrators said forces seeking to topple the Taliban were not much better in their treatment of women. The alliance is comprised of groups who ruled Kabul from 1992-96.

``We demand to know why the United Nations and other world bodies insist on delivering the destiny of our people into the hands of fundamentalist murderers,″ the demonstrators said in a one-page statement.

The Taliban militia ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani from the capital, Kabul, in 1996 and have been fighting an alliance of northern-based anti-Taliban forces.

The United Nations has had very little success at negotiating a peaceful end to the conflict. The two sides apparently reached an agreement in principle to share power at a meeting in Turkmenistan in March, but it unraveled.

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