As the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the the group and all other parties “to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian can be addressed.”
A statement issued to the UN press corps on Sunday said that Guterres is following with deep concern the rapid turn of the events in Afghanistan which 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 statement said
The Secretary-General is particularly concerned about the future of women and girls, whose hard-won rights must be protected, the statement continued, stressing that “all abuses must stop.
He calls on the Taliban and all other parties to ensure that international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all people are respected and protected.”
The statement goes on to say that the need for assistance is surging while the operating environment becomes more restricted due to the escalation of the conflict.
As such, Guterres is calling on all parties to ensure that humanitarian actors have unimpeded access to deliver timely and life-saving services and assistance.
“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,” the statement added.
Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York this past Friday, the 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.
According to latest reports, Taliban forces reached the Afghan capital, Kabul, earlier. This followed the capture of one provincial capital after another over the past several weeks, ending with the key southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmond.
The insurgents now control most of the country, just weeks before the planned final withdrawal of US and international troops.
Due to an escalation of fighting across the country, many people had been arriving in Kabul and other large cities, seeking safety from the conflict and other threats.
According to a flash update from the UN relief wing, between 1 July and 15 August 2021, the humanitarian community verified 17,600 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had arrived in Kabul.
Arrival of new IDPs were not reported. Assessments were ongoing on the morning of 15 August.—APP