UN holds emergency meeting over Afghanistan

The UN Security Council under India’s current presidency has begun an emergency meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

The council is meeting for the second time in over a week to discuss events in that country.

The longstanding war in Afghanistan reached a watershed moment on Sunday when the Taliban retook the capital Kabul after 20 years.

The militants entered the city and took over the presidential palace, forcing embattled President Ashraf Ghani to join fellow citizens and foreigners to flee the country.

The UNSC meeting on Afghanistan came as talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha stalled.

Negotiators representing the national government earlier headed to Doha, Qatar, on Sunday to discuss an agreement with the Taliban’s political leadership.

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As the situation deteriorates in Afghanistan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the Taliban and all other parties to “exercise utmost restraint.”

Guterres said he was “following with deep concern” the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan and urged the Taliban and all other parties to exercise utmost restraint in order to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs can be addressed,.

The UN chief had, however, addressed the Security Council’s open meeting on Afghanistan on Monday morning.

“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,” a UN statement said.

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It added that Mr Guterres was “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 statement read.

The UN chief said the need for assistance was surging while the operating environment became more restricted owing to the escalation of the conflict.

“The Secretary-General calls on all parties to ensure that humanitarian actors have unimpeded access to deliver timely and life-saving services and assistance.

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“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.”

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