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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 04:30 GMT 05:30 UK
Annan: Kabul's grim future
No reconstruction is planned for the capital
The United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, has painted a desperate picture of life in Afghanistan, four years after the Taleban militia took control of the capital, Kabul.

He also warned that the warring factions appear to be preparing for a major offensive.

The situation of the Afghan people remains deplorable

Kofi Annan
In a report to UN General Assembly, Mr Annan said the Taleban - which controls 90% of Afghanistan - still harbours hopes of a military victory.

Opposition groups who control parts of the north also believe they "can redress the balance of power through gains on the ground," Mr Annan said, appealing to both sides to return to the negotiating table.

Taleban fighters
Another offensive in sight?
Kabul, his report said, resembled a "bombed-out city" after World War II in an impoverished country that squanders its resources on weapons.

"No reconstruction is in sight and its people have little hope for improvement," he said.

Billions of dollars have been spent on fighting since 1979, leaving Afghanistan with its assets depleted, "its intelligentsia in exile, its people disenfranchised, its traditional political structures shattered," Mr Annan said.

Cycle of violence

UN envoys have been unable to negotiate a peace between the Taleban and a northern alliance led by General Ahmad Shah Masood.

Afghanistan went through nine years of military conflict with the Soviet Union, ending in 1989, followed by a protracted civil war.

Taleban rule is recognised only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Child cooking
Children die of "easily preventable" diseases
Mr Annan said Afghanistan was undergoing a "process of pauperisation," made worse by the country's most severe drought in 30 years.

Children are dying from easily preventable disease and women and girls continue to face serious restrictions on any participation in public life.

"The dismissal of female civil servants from government service is yet another sad example of the brazen violations of their rights," he said.

The Taleban is under UN Security Council air and financial sanctions aimed at forcing it to hand over Saudi militant Osama bin Laden.

He is wanted for trial by the US on charges of masterminding the 1998 bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

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See also:

25 May 00 | South Asia
Taleban warns neighbours
21 Jan 00 | South Asia
Chechnya to open Kabul embassy
03 Aug 98 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
03 Aug 98 | Analysis
Afghanistan: 20 years of bloodshed
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