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Afghanistan: UN chief urges Taliban, other parties to exercise restraint

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged Taliban and all other parties to exercise utmost restraint in order to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs were addressed in Afghanistan..



Guterres made the call through a note from his Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, on Sunday in New York, following the development in the country.

According to reports, Taliban fighters on Sunday took over the Afghan capital and President Ashraf Ghani fled abroad leaving the government in collapse.

Dujarric said the secretary-general was following with deep concern the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.

“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 secretary-general is particularly concerned about the future of women and girls, whose hard-won rights must be protected. 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 need for assistance is surging while the operating environment becomes more restricted due to the escalation of the conflict,’’ he said.

According to him, the secretary-general calls on all parties to ensure that humanitarian actors have unimpeded access to deliver timely and life-saving services and assistance.

He said the United Nations remained 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 secretary-general had 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.

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.

The UN chief said more than 1,000 people had been killed or injured from indiscriminate attacks against civilians, notably in Helmand, Kandahar and Herat provinces, in just the past month.

He 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 said.

“Continued urban conflict will mean continued carnage” he noted, 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,” he added.

Guterres said he was “deeply disturbed” by reports of the Taliban imposing severe restrictions on human rights in the areas under their control, particularly targeting women and journalists.

“It is particularly horrifying and heartbreaking to see reports of the hard-won rights of Afghan girls and women being ripped away from them,” he said.

The UN chief called on the international community, to make clear to the Taliban that seizing power through military force was a losing proposition, adding that can only lead to prolonged civil war, or to the complete isolation of Afghanistan.

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 said, 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.” (NAN)

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