Category: Afghanistan (Page 2 of 2)

UN chief tells Security Council: ‘now is the time to stand as one’ on Afghanistan.

As desperate Afghans were trying to escape the Taliban and board planes, during chaotic scenes at Kabul airport on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for international unity on Afghanistan, in a briefing to an emergency session of the UN Security Council

Antonio Guterres appealed for the UN Security Council to stand as one, and ensure that human rights are upheld, humanitarian aid continues, and that the country does not again become a platform for terrorism.

“The following days will be pivotal”, said the UN chief. 

“The world is watching.

We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan”. 

The UN Secretary-General noted that the international community is following the developments in Afghanistan “with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead.” 

After seizing large swaths of territory in recent months, the Taliban on Sunday took control of the capital, Kabul, home to some six million people.   

President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country, according to media reports, and desperate residents have been scrambling to the airport to get flights out. 

“At this grave hour, I urge all parties, especially the Taliban, to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met,” said Mr. Guterres. 

Afghanistan’s UN ambassador, Ghulam M. Isaczai, spoke of the fear that has gripped Kabul; people displaced from other provinces had flocked to the capital, viewed as the last refuge in the country.   

“Kabul residents are reporting that Taliban have already started house to house searches in some neighborhoods in Kabul, registering names and looking for people in their target list”, said Mr. Isaczai.

There are already reports of target killings and looting in the city”. 

Invoke Chapter VII 

The experts further urged the Security Council “to take appropriate action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to safeguard the human rights and humanitarian needs of the people of Afghanistan, including its most vulnerable, and to address the role of Member States to prevent acts of terrorism under international law.” 

Chapter VII concerns Council response to threats to peace, breaches of peace, or acts of aggression, and allows for non-military and military action

They also recommended that countries should apply international sanctions against terrorist organizations, and ensure civilians have access to humanitarian aid as needs increase, according UN News.

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United Nations chief urges restraint as Taliban reach Kabul, UN Security Council set to meet Monday.

As the crisis in Afghanistan deepens by the hour, with reports that insurgent forces reached the country’s capital, Kabul, earlier on Sunday.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged the Taliban and all other parties “to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian can be addressed.”

Mr. Guterres is following with deep concern the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan, as the conflict is forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

There continue to be reports of serious human rights abuses and violations in the communities most affected by the fighting.

“The United Nations remains determined to contribute to a peaceful settlement, promote the human rights of all Afghans, notably women and girls, and provide life-saving humanitarian assistance and critical support to civilians in need”.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters this past Friday, the UN Secretary-General stressed that there was still potential for stalled intra-Afghan talks taking place in Doha, Qatar, supported by the region and the wider international community, which could lead to a negotiated settlement.

On Monday, the Secretary-General will address the UN Security Council‘s open meeting on Afghanistan, according UN News.

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UN chief urges Taliban in Afghanistan to halt offensive immediately, negotiate ‘in good faith’.

The UN Secretary-General on Friday called on Taliban militants to “immediately halt” their offensive against government forces and return to the negotiating table in good faith, “in the interest of Afghanistan, and its people.”

António Guterres told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York that humanitarian needs were “growing by the hour” and the country largely spinning out of control.

“Even for a country that has tragically known generations of conflict, Afghanistan is in the throes of yet another chaotic and desperate chapter – an incredible tragedy for its long-suffering people”, he said, noting that more than 1,000 people have been killed or injured from indiscriminate attacks against civilians, notably in Helmand, Kandahar and Herat provinces, in just the past month.

The UN chief said the fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces for control of cities and towns, was “causing tremendous harm. 

At least 241,000 people have been forced to flee from their homes…

Hospitals are overflowing. 

Food and medical supplies are dwindling. 

Roads, bridges, schools, clinics and other critical infrastructure are being destroyed”, he added.

“Continued urban conflict will mean continued carnage” he said, with civilians inevitably paying the highest price.

“I call on all parties to take heed of the conflict’s heavy toll and its devastating impact on civilians. 

They all must do more to protect civilians.”

Holding on for peace

He said there was still potential for stalled intra-Afghan talks taking place in Doha, Qatar, supported by the region and the wider international community, which could lead to a negotiated settlement.

“Only an Afghan-led negotiated political settlement can ensure peace”, he added, declaring that the UN was determined to contribute to a peace deal, “promote the rights of all Afghans and provide life-saving humanitarian help to the ever increasing numbers of civilians in need”, according UN News.

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Attack on UN mission in Afghanistan draws global condemnation.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemned an attack in its main compound in the western Afghan province of Herat on Friday that left an Afghan police guard dead and other officers injured.  

So-called “anti-Government elements” targeted entrances of the clearly marked UN facility with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire just hours after Taliban fighters penetrated Herat city and clashed with Afghan security forces near UNAMA’s provincial headquarters. 

“This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms”, said Deborah Lyons, the UN Special Representative for the country.  

“Our first thoughts are with the family of the officer slain and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured”, she added. 

Secretary-General António Guterres added his strong condemnation and reminded that “attacks against UN personnel and premises are prohibited under international law and may constitute war crimes”.   

In a statement issued through his Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, Mr. Guterres reiterated the UN’s commitment of support to the Government and people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve peace and stability.  

The UN chief also expressed his condolences to the bereaved family and wished the injured a speedy recovery.  

UNAMA reported that no UN staff were hurt in the incident. 

“The perpetrators of this attack must be identified and brought to account”, said Ms. Lyons, who also heads UNAMA. 

The UN’s presence in the country is as a civilian entity focused on supporting peace efforts, promoting the rights of all Afghans and providing humanitarian and development assistance. 

The UN expressed its gratitude to the Afghan Directorate of Protection Services officers who defended the compound from the attackers. 

Multiple UN Member States, and regional organizations on Twitter, added their condemnation of the assault and called for justice.

Herat city is the second provincial capital area that Taliban fighters have entered in the space of 24 hours, according to news reports.

Insurgents entered the capital of the southern province of Helmand a day earlier, and as clashes continue there, civilians are rushing to evacuate the city. 

On Friday, the Taliban assault on the outskirts of Herat, reportedly forced many civilians to flee, according UN News.

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Funding shortfall amid deepening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Senior UN official Ramiz Alakbarov on Thursday urged donors to step up support for Afghanistan, where ongoing drought and increased military operations amid foreign troop withdrawal, are displacing scores of civilians, creating a growing humanitarian crisis. 

According UN News: Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, said a $1.3 billion appeal, launched earlier this year, is less than 40 per cent funded.

Some 18 million Afghans, or half the population, require assistance.

A third of the country is malnourished, while half of all children under five are experiencing acute malnutrition. 

The $450 million received so far, half of which came from the United States, falls far short of what is needed. 

“Our plan is to provide assistance to at least 15.7 million people, and right now it will not be possible without these additional contributions,” said Mr. Alakbarov, speaking via videoconference to journalists in New York. 

The developments are occurring as the deadline for foreign troops to fully withdraw from the country approaches. 

The drought, the second in three years, and ongoing military response in the wake of a “spring offensive” by the Taliban, have uprooted some 270,000 people who have fled rural areas for urban centres. 

In the northern city of Kunduz, for example, roughly 35,000 displaced people are being housed in schools and public buildings, and need food, water and sanitation.

The fundamentalist Taliban who have been fighting the internationally-recognized central Government for years, have taken over all districts surrounding the city. 

Afghanistan

Meanwhile, neighbouring countries, such as Iran, have been deporting Afghan refugees from their territories.  

Humanitarians are also witnessing “very intensive” population movements in areas near the borders with Iran and Pakistan, which are now largely closed. 

The closures have not yet affected humanitarians as aid stocks are sufficient to last through the end of August. 

Mr. Alakbarov has visited five regions of Afghanistan in as many weeks.

The UN official was particularly concerned about the plight of women and girls, who are facing “very difficult conditions”. 

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All foreign troops must leave Afghanistan by deadline the Taliban said.

Any foreign troops left in Afghanistan after Nato’s September withdrawal deadline will be at risk as occupiers, the Taliban has told the BBC.

It comes amid reports that 1,000 mainly US troops could remain on the ground to protect diplomatic missions and Kabul’s international airport.

Nato’s 20-year military mission in Afghanistan has all but ended.

But violence in the country continues to rise, with the Taliban taking more territory.

Under a deal with the militant group, the US and its Nato allies agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the Taliban not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control.

President Joe Biden set a deadline of 11 September – the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the US – for American troops to fully withdraw, but reports suggest the pullout may be complete within days.

As Afghan forces prepare to take charge of security alone, concern is growing for the future of Kabul.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said seizing Kabul militarily was “not Taliban policy”.

President Biden has said the American pull-out is justified as US forces have made sure Afghanistan cannot become a base for foreign jihadists to plot against the West again.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, meanwhile, insists that the country’s security forces are fully capable of keeping insurgents at bay, but many believe the withdrawal risks casting the country back into the grip of the Taliban.

Taliban: “US forces remaining would violate Doha agreement”.

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