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Taliban Raid Foreign Aid Agencies, Rewrites Afghanistan’s Constitution

After Sunday’s deadline, by which all foreign aid agencies were to relocate to dilapidated housing on the outskirts of Kabul, the Taliban government raided six remaining aid agencies, shutting down offices and arresting local staff. The office of the coordinating body of aid agencies was also taken over by the Taliban.

Many agencies refused to relocate and abandoned their posts instead. Factors involved in this decision included safety issues and inability to pay the one million dollars needed to install electricity and running water in the housing to which they were assigned, as well as increased anti-Western sentiment. Many predict that the agencies’ withdrawal will have a devastating effect on the city, which has been receiving food, medicine and clothing from the organizations. They have also been repairing war-torn neighborhoods, removing land mines, and rebuilding cultural sites, roads, and canals. Doctors Without Borders runs a network of hospitals and clinics in Kabul that sees several thousand people each month, more than 70 percent of whom are women and children. “If we leave tomorrow, it’s finished for these women,” said Dr. Vendrini on Saturday.

European Union officials said that they were considering a freeze on humanitarian aid to Kabul because of the Taliban’s mistreatment of women. Under the Taliban’s decrees, women are forbidden to work, attend school, or leave their homes without a close male relative.

The Taliban also announced on Sunday that they have changed the Afghan constitution by replacing secular passages with religious ones so that their administration could be wholly in conformity with their version of Islamic Shariat law. The Taliban urged other Muslim countries to do the same, claiming they were heretics with secular governments. In addition, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar banished political parties, claiming that they were anti-Islamic and created divisions in society.

Sources:

AP - July 20, 1998; Voice of America- July 20,1998; BBC World Service- July 20, 1998 and Agence France Presse- July 18&19, 1998

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