Afghanistan rebels seek more aid
Afghan rebels are making new appeals for military and humanitarian aid in the wake of recent setbacks.
Although confident in their ability to continue fighting the Soviet-backed Kabul regime, the guerrillas have not hidden their concern that unless the West assumes a more active role in providing assistance, the resistance faces a precarious future.
Touring West European countries to generate support, the Afghans have been meeting with senior government officials, parliamentarians, and relief organizations.
Several of them plan to visit the United States for talks with Reagan administration officials and congressional members.
Complaining that the weapons promised by the US have not been reaching guerrillas, the resistance representatives said they still do not have enough anti-aircraft guns or missiles. Ammunition is also in short supply.
''Many of our villages have absolutely no protection against aerial attacks, '' one of them said.
Although EC nations including France, Britain, and West Germany have been extremely generous in helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan, little is being done to alleviate the plight of those remaining inside. Only a handful of mainly French voluntary organizations have been furnishing medical care and some relief supplies on a regular basis.
According to the representatives, tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in recent months to seek refuge in the mountains or with friends and relatives in less exposed areas. Many of them are the women and children of men killed in action or allegedly executed and imprisoned by the Kabul regime.
''This is causing a heavy burden on our meager resources,'' said one of the visiting Afghans. ''We have not got enough food, clothing, and other supplies to go around.''
In many respects, these displaced persons suffer the same conditions as Afghan refugees in Pakistan except that they do not benefit from international relief.
Resistance leaders fear that communist enticements -- for instance the promise of food and shelter as well as immunity from attacks in return for non-cooperation with the guerrillas -- may eventually win some of them over.
''If the guerrillas are unable to take care of these people, then they will be forced to seek help elsewhere, either by going to Pakistan or by resigning themselves to Soviet domination,'' said a recently returned French doctor who asked not to be identified. ''It is a lot to ask of a human being to continue fighting for years on end if one does not have the means to support one's family.''
Much of what is needed inside Afghanistan can be purchased with adequate funds in the bazaars of Kabul and other communist-occupied towns. In the past, some relief organizations have organized costly mule or camel caravans from Pakistan into the interior.
Others have found that distribution of money to resistance committees inside Afghanistan, rather than to political parties in Peshawar, has proven the most effective method of channelling aid.
The resistance groups are also calling for international recognition along the lines of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
''International recognition is indispensible if we are to succeed,'' said one resistance group member. Unlike previous resistance delegations to the West, the Afghans are active guerrilla commanders rather than Peshawar-based politicians.
Afghanistan has nearly become a forgotten issue in Europe as in the US. At a conference in Florence last week hosted by the Italian Socialist Party and the town's Communist mayor, various European parliamentarians, trade unionists, and intellectuals called upon their governments to provide more than just supportive rhetoric for the Afghan resistance.
''The resistance has become a reality,'' the conference resolution declared.
''As a result it should be recognized on an international level and receive not only humanitarian, food, and medical aid - but also financial and military.''