Safe for refugees but not tourists

Issue 

The following advice for Australians travelling to Afghanistan was issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on July 4.

Safety and Security — Australians should defer all travel to Afghanistan until further notice. Australians in Afghanistan despite this warning should register with the Australian High Commission in Islamabad, exercise extreme security awareness and keep themselves informed of developments within the country.

In response to the terrorist attacks in the United States of America, the international coalition has been conducting a military campaign in Afghanistan since 7 October 2001. The campaign continues, although on a reduced scale.

The security situation in Afghanistan remains very uncertain outside Kabul and overland travel outside the city carries significant danger. Warlords control many areas and travel in these areas can be very dangerous. There is the added danger that some Taliban and al Qaeda fighters may remain in parts of the country, thereby creating a significant security risk.

Mr Karzai, leader of Afghanistan's Interim Authority, has now been appointed Head of the Afghanistan Transitional Government which will administer the country until general elections are held in 18 months time.

General — Australians travelling by road in Afghanistan should ensure that their vehicles travel in a protected convoy. Banditry in rural areas by armed groups is common.

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Afghanistan and care should be taken to avoid giving rise to offence. Care should be taken not to breach regulations governing the import of certain prohibited items into the country.

All Australians in Afghanistan are urged to register with the Australian High Commission in Islamabad, and to report on their absences and final departure dates from the country.

From Green Left Weekly, July 31, 2002.
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