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Afghanistan: UN envoy condemns murder of local journalist by Taliban

8 April 2007 The senior United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today spoke out against the killing of Afghan journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi, who had been abducted by Taliban extremists early last month, calling for action to apprehend the perpetrators.

“I condemn this senseless murder unreservedly and call on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice,” said Tom Koenigs in a statement released in Kabul.

“The perpetrators of this crime have shown absolute indifference to the value of human life by ignoring the calls of family, journalists and Afghans who with one voice called for his safe return,” added the envoy, paying tribute to the slain reporter, who was taken captive on 5 March, for “playing a vital role in highlighting the concerns and challenges of the Afghan people as well as a firm resolve to see justice done.”

Mr. Koenigs emphasized the need for all to respect to rights of journalists to work free from interference or harm. “At this difficult time, our thoughts remain with the family, friends and colleagues of Ajmal Naqshbandi as well as with all those in this country who value freedom of expression and human rights,” he said.

In another development, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director in Afghanistan, Rick Corsino, told a press briefing in the capital today that the agency has is trying to assist some 75,000 people affected by floods. He called this “a true emergency and because of this it is straining the capacities of the humanitarian agencies and the Government to respond.”

WFP is distributing one month of food rations to each family, typically containing 100 kilograms of wheat, 10 kilogrammes of beans, two tins of cooking oil and 1 kilogramme of salt.

“This is just enough to help a family through the immediate life-threatening situation, providing 30 days of food,” Mr. Corsino said, adding that work on addressing the longer-term impact will commence in the coming weeks.

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