The UN Security Council met urgently on Monday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban seized power on Sunday after the collapse of government forces and the flight abroad of President Ashraf Ghani .
“The world is following the events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and a deep concern as to what lies ahead. We have all seen the footage in real time. Chaos, turmoil, uncertainty, and fear, ”UN Secretary-General António Guterres told Council members.
“At this grave hour, I urge all parties, especially the Taliban, to exercise the utmost restraint to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs can be met,” he added. The Taliban stormed the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday evening and scenes of panic were observed at the international airport in the Afghan capital, where thousands of people are seeking to flee.
The UN chief recalled that the conflict had forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes and that Kabul had seen a massive influx of displaced people.
He further reminded all parties of their obligation to protect civilians and called on them to provide humanitarian organizations with unhindered access to deliver services and assistance quickly. He also urged all countries to agree to accept Afghan refugees and to refrain from any expulsion.
Faced with this crisis situation in Afghanistan, the Secretary General called on the international community for unity and in particular “to speak with one voice to defend human rights” in this country.
He expressed particular concern at “the stories of growing human rights violations against women and girls in Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days.” “It is essential that the hard-won rights of Afghan women and girls are protected,” he added.
The UN chief also called on the international community to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used as a platform or refuge for terrorist organizations. “I appeal to the Security Council – and the international community as a whole – to stand in solidarity, work together and act together – and use all the tools at their disposal to suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan and to ensure respect for fundamental human rights, ”he said. “It does not matter who holds the power, these two fundamental principles – in which our world has such a deep and constant interest – must be respected”.
Guterres recalled that the UN is present in the country and he was relieved to announce that, to a large extent, United Nations personnel and premises have been respected. “We continue to urge the Taliban to honor the integrity of these facilities and the inviolability of diplomatic envoys and premises,” he said.
Regarding the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan which affects 18 million people, or half of the country’s population, he said it was vital that basic services continue to be provided. “The United Nations presence will adapt to the security situation. But above all, we will stay and support the Afghan people, ”he said, calling for an immediate end to the violence, respect for the rights of all Afghans and Afghanistan’s respect for all. international agreements to which the country is a party.