DUBLIN (Reuters) - United Nations Human Rights Commissioner
Mary Robinson called on Friday for a suspension of air strikes
against Afghanistan in order to provide aid to civilians before
the onset of winter.
Speaking on Irish state radio, she said the situation for
civilians in Afghanistan was ``desperate.''
``This is the real wish of the humanitarian agencies...the
desperate urgency now is to use this window until about the
15th or 16th of November when the winter snows will prevent
access and the people will freeze and starve to death because
they will have neither food nor shelter,'' she said.
``We must have a pause in order to enable huge humanitarian
access and to allow a number of Afghans to come across the
borders,'' she said.
The United States carried out a fifth wave of air strikes
overnight in an assault against the hardline Taliban for its
refusal to surrender Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, the prime
suspect in the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Robinson, a former president of Ireland, said there was an
opportunity to save many lives, but time was of the essence.
``All I can say is there is a desperate situation for
hundreds of thousands -- perhaps up to two million -- of the
Afghan civilian population who desperately need food,'' she
``It is absolutely wrong that 6,000 people were killed in
the terrible events of September 11 but equally we must have
regard for the population in Afghanistan,'' she added.
Robinson said it was also important that military attacks
be confined to targets that did not put civilians at risk.
Asked whether she was happy that this was the case at
present, she said: ``It's very hard to tell, we don't have much
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