Expressing its concern at the deterioration of the situation in Tajikistan, and in particular about the ongoing fighting in the Tavildara region and the seizure of the towns of Jirgatal and Tajikabad by the Tajik opposition, the Security Council this afternoon demanded the immediate cessation of all hostilities and acts of violence.
In a presidential statement read on its behalf by its President, Alfredo Lopes Cabral (Guinea-Bissau), the Council encouraged President Emomali Rakhmonov of Tajikistan and the leader of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) to meet as soon as possible, reiterating the importance of direct political dialogue between them was for the peace process.
The Council expressed regret that the Government and the leadership of the UTO had not honoured their commitments to resolve the conflict in Tajikistan and achieve national reconciliation through peaceful means. Concern about the violations of the Teheran cease-fire agreement of 17 September 1994 and both parties' failure to implement the Ashgabat agreements was also expressed by the Council.
Further, it urgently called upon the parties to cooperate fully with the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), to ensure the safety of personnel of the United Nations and other international organizations and to lift all restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMOT personnel. It also expressed its concern about the large-scale use of land- mines due to the threat it posed to the population and UNMOT personnel.
The Secretary-General's initiative to arrange for an inter-agency mission, to determine how to respond most effectively to Tajikistan's humanitarian situation, was welcomed by the Council.
By the terms of the Teheran Agreement, the parties agreed to a cease- fire and to create a joint commission, with representatives of the Government and the opposition. Under the terms of the Ashgabat agreements of July 1996, the sides agreed to halt all combat operations and hostile acts in the
country. They also agreed to cease hostilities in the Tavildara sector on 20 July, guarantee the freedom of movement of the Joint Commission members and the United Nations military observers, as well as extend the Teheran Agreement until 31 December. The Ashgabat agreements included a protocol on the exchange of an equal number of prisoners of war and a joint communiqué confirming a commitment to settle the conflict by political means.
The Council meeting, called to order at 12:35 p.m., was adjourned at 12:43 p.m.
The full text of the statement, to be released as document S/PRST/1996/38, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Tajikistan of 13 September 1996 (S/1996/754).
"The Security Council expresses its concern at the deterioration of the situation in Tajikistan and at the increasing tension along the Tajik-Afghan border. It reaffirms its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Tajikistan and to the inviolability of its borders.
"The Security Council is also concerned about the violations of the Teheran cease-fire agreement of 17 September 1994 (S/1994/1102, annex I) and about the failure of both parties to implement the Ashgabat agreements. It is, in particular, concerned about the ongoing fighting in the Tavildara region and the seizure of the towns of Jirgatal and Tajikabad by the opposition. The Council demands the immediate cessation of all hostilities and acts of violence.
"The Security Council recalls the commitments made by the Government of Tajikistan and by the leadership of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) to resolve the conflict and to achieve national reconciliation through peaceful means. It regrets that these commitments have not so far been honoured.
"The Security Council commends the efforts of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) and urgently calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with UNMOT and to ensure the safety of the personnel of the United Nations and other international organizations and also calls on them to lift all restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMOT personnel. In this connection, it is concerned about the large-scale use of land-mines due to the threat it creates for the population and UNMOT personnel.
"The Security Council welcomes the initiative of the Secretary-General to arrange for an inter-agency mission to Tajikistan to determine how to respond most effectively to the humanitarian situation.
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"The Security Council welcomes the renewed work of the Joint Commission and the results of their efforts in reducing tensions in the Garm region and in the Karategin valley.
"The Security Council emphasizes that the primary responsibility rests with the Tajik parties themselves in resolving their differences. It recalls paragraphs 3 and 4 of its resolutions 1061 (1996) of 14 June 1996.
"The Security Council commends the efforts of the Secretary-General's Special Representative and calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with him in resuming the inter-Tajik talks. The Council reiterates the importance of the continuation of direct political dialogue between the President of the Republic of Tajikistan and the leader of the UTO for the peace process and encourages them to hold their next meeting as soon as possible."
Report of Secretary-General
Before the Council was a report of the Secretary-General (S/1996/754) which states that the situation in Tajikistan had deteriorated in the last three months. The agreements reached in Ashgabat last July had not been implemented; heavy fighting had taken place in the Tavildara sector; military confrontations had intensified in the Karategin valley and the Garm district; and the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border was tense. The activities of UNMOT had been impeded by restrictions on the freedom of movement of the military observers, according to the report.
The Secretary-General calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a resumption of political dialogue. Having taken note of the recent statements of President Emomali Rakhmonov and opposition leader Abdullo Nuri on their readiness to resume direct contact, he states that he has instructed his Special Representative to assist that meeting. Further, he has asked his Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to arrange an inter-agency mission to determine how the United Nations might respond to the hostilities, economic deterioration, and the displacement of civilians by the thousands that was aggravating the crisis in Tajikistan.
According to the report, following the fall of Tavildara to the opposition in May, fighting raged in the sector throughout June and July, with multidirectional attacks initiated by opposition forces and government counter-attacks employing fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Opposition forces have also repeatedly harassed government installations in the Garm region, according to the report. In response to those events, the third phase of the inter-Tajik talks at Ashgabat, which took place from 8 to 21 July, concentrated on the restoration of a cease-fire, the extension of the Teheran Agreement (document S/1994/1102, annex I) and the working out of a schedule and agenda for further talks.
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The parties agreed on the need for a cease-fire, but disagreed on modalities, particularly as they related to the Tavildara zone. The Government demanded that the opposition withdraw to the positions held prior to 28 January 1996, along the left bank of the Ragnov river south of Lairon village; the opposition favoured maintaining occupied positions. After negotiations, the parties agreed on a "joint declaration on the cessation of hostilities and observance of the Teheran Agreement". The parties also signed a protocol on the exchange of an equal number of prisoners of war and detainees and issued a communiqué which confirmed their commitment to a settlement of the conflict by political means.
In an effort to implement the Ashgabat agreement, two UNMOT teams set out on 20 July with one team proceeding from Khovaling and the other from Labijar. A third UNMOT team was instructed to proceed towards Tavildara from Kalaikhum for better monitoring and support. But the teams were stopped by government forces which claimed ignorance of the Ashgabat agreement, lack of instructions from their headquarters, the presence of land-mines along the way and ongoing fighting in the area. On 30 July, an UNMOT team visited Taloqan to discuss the implementation of the Ashgabat agreement with leaders of the UTO.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General discussed implementation of the Ashgabat agreement with President Rakhmonov on 5 August. He was, at that time, informed of the creation of a National Security Council, which, on 3 August, had instructed the Ministers of Defence, Security and the Interior to implement government obligations under the Ashgabat joint declaration and to facilitate UNMOT access to the Tavildara sector. President Rakhmonov also said that he wished to complete the exchange of prisoners of war and detainees. Despite those assurances, UNMOT continued to be prevented from carrying out its tasks, according to the report.
Fighting in the Tavildara has caused numerous casualties on both sides and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, the report continues. Approximately 15 per cent of the town has been completely destroyed and 25 per cent heavily damaged. The town is now almost completely deserted except for some elderly persons and children. Both parties have engaged in the widespread placement of anti-personnel mines. Consequently, UNMOT has restricted travel by United Nations organizations to that area, and the area north of the Dushanbe-Garm road. According to local inhabitants, Russian border forces have air-dropped anti-personnel mines along the Tajik-Afghan border. There has been no progress in the implementation of the Ashgabat Protocol on the Exchange of Prisoners of War and Detainees.
Elsewhere, demonstrations in Tursunzade, to the west of Dushanbe, turned into violent clashes between two local paramilitary groups, resulting in a number of casualties. On 19 June, a bus transporting Ministry of Defence personnel was ambushed in the outskirts of Dushanbe; nine soldiers were
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wounded, two critically. On 29 July, Muhamad Asimi, former President of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, was assassinated in Dushanbe. On 15 August, two bombs exploded at a restaurant in downtown Dushanbe and under a truck transporting Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peace-keeping forces in the suburbs, killing a Russian soldier and injuring two others. The mayor of Tajikabad, who also served as representative of President Rakhmonov to the region, was assassinated.
In the early morning hours of 21 July, a Ministry of the Interior unit of approximately 200 servicemen, supported by tanks and armoured vehicles, surrounded the village of Teppi-Samarkandi 10 kilometres east of Dushanbe. In six hours of fighting, 11 persons were killed and many others injured. On 5 September, the opposition took control of Jirgatal in the eastern part of the valley. On 12 September, the opposition, without a fight, took control of Tajikabad, between Jirgatal and Garm. As a result, the opposition now controls the valley from Garm to the Kyrgyz border. In response, the Government has been assembling forces east of Dushanbe to counter those advances; the opposition has concentrated forces in the area of Komsomolabad to block their advance.
The report states that the UNMOT Chief Military Observer and the co-chairmen of the Joint Commission have met with field commanders of the opposition in order to assess the situation and prevent further escalation. The UNMOT has urged the opposition to halt its offensive in the Karategin valley and return to its previous positions, while the Government should withdraw its reinforcements.
Along the Tajik-Afghan border in Gorny Badakhshan, Russian border forces reported a build-up of opposition fighters in Afghanistan, the report states. Russian border forces have established additional positions along the border and reinforced their units, and a number of ethnic Tajiks, who make up the majority of their personnel, are to be replaced by Russians.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General has been in frequent touch with government representatives throughout the period, according to the report. From 20 to 23 August 1996, he visited Teheran where he met A. Turajonzodah and other opposition leaders who confirmed their willingness to resume substantive talks as soon as possible. They stated that a well-prepared meeting between President Rakhmonov and Mr. Nuri could be an important step towards a comprehensive solution. On 10 September, the Special Representative travelled to Moscow for discussions with the Russian authorities.
Regarding humanitarian and rehabilitation efforts, the report states that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World
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Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) were present in the country, in addition to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), representational office and the liaison office of the World Bank. The WFP and international non-governmental organizations identified some 620,000 persons requiring relief food assistance, among whom the WFP is targeting some 400,000 persons. There was concern about the decreasing volume of food aid being made available by donors for 1996.
Annexed to the report of the Secretary-General are the joint declaration signed at Ashgabat on 19 July 1996 on the cessation of hostilities and observance of the Teheran Agreement; the protocol signed at Ashgabat on 21 July on the implementation of a humanitarian action involving the exchange of prisoners of war and detainees; and the joint communiqué signed on 21 July on the outcome of the third round of inter-Tajik talks, held at Ashgabat from 8 to 21 July.
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