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U-N: Taleban Air Traffic Ban Will Hamper Flow of Essential Aid - 2001-09-07


The United Nations has responded to Taleban threats to ban U-N flights into Afghanistan, saying that move would severely hamper the flow of essential aid to the war-torn country.

A statement by the Pakistan-based U-N coordinator for Afghanistan says the flights are crucial to maintaining urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

The statement comes in response to Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakel's comments earlier today (Friday) in which he repeated threats to declare skies over the Afghanistan unsafe and off-limits to international flights.

Mr. Mutawakel says the Taleban's goal is not to ban flights but to receive funds, frozen by U-N sanctions, that airlines have paid for overflights.

U-N sanctions were imposed more than two years ago over the Taleban's refusal to extradite suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Under the restrictions, Afghanistan's state-run airlines, Afghan Ariana, is banned from international air routes. Also, other airlines have been barred from landing or taking off in Taleban-held areas.

The flight embargo, however, does not include flights by United Nations and Red Cross airplanes.

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