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U.N. warns of Afghan withdrawal

The U.N.'s refugee agency has been working in Afghanistan to assist 2.5 million returnees.
The U.N.'s refugee agency has been working in Afghanistan to assist 2.5 million returnees.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations could be forced to withdraw its staff from Afghanistan if security does not improve, a spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan says.

However, the spokesman, who declined to be identified, said Friday that there was no imminent decision to pull out of Afghanistan.

He added that Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations top official in Afghanistan, "has said for months that there was an urgent need for a more secure presence in order to do the work that needs to be done."

The secretary-general's report on Afghanistan released Monday spotlighted the deteriorating security situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

It said that U.N. staff could only fulfill their mission "if the present deterioration in security is halted and reversed" and "adequate protection" was provided for the mission's staff.

In the report, Annan says that it is "indispensable that international support be significantly increased and sustained. Above all, the international community needs to strengthen its commitment to provide security."

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• STAFF SECURITY: Afghan attack sparks U.N. rethink 

At least 11 aid workers have been killed in Afghanistan since March. The attacks are blamed on the Taliban.

A French U.N. refugee agency worker was shot dead last month by a man on a motorbike who opened fire on her vehicle in Ghazni, the capital of Ghazni province, 200 kilometers (125 miles) southwest of Kabul, the Afghan capital.

A Taliban spokesman later said its guerrillas were behind the attack.


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