United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that Afghanistan is “spinning out of control” and urged the Taliban fighters, who are capturing huge swaths of territory, to halt its offensive so they could “negotiate in good faith.”
“The message from the international community to those on the warpath must be clear: seizing power through military force is a losing proposition. That can only lead to prolonged civil war or the complete isolation of Afghanistan,” he told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.
“I call on the Taliban to immediately halt the offensive and to negotiate in good faith in the interest of Afghanistan and its people,” the UN chief added.
The secretary-general said there was still potential for stalled intra-Afghan talks 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.”
Guterres said he is “deeply disturbed by early indications that the Taliban are 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 secretary-general also mentioned that at least 241,000 people have had to flee due to the Taliban’s attacks. At the same time, the country begins to see a reduction in critical supplies. He noted that schools, clinics and roads were being devastated.
“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,” Guterres said.
The Taliban have made rapid advances amid the U.S. withdrawal ordered by President Joe Biden, capturing several major cities, including Afghanistan’s second and third-largest, Kandahar and Herat.
According to reports from Kabul, the Taliban now control 17 of the 34 provincial capitals in the country.
The Pentagon announced Thursday that it would be deploying military personnel “temporarily” to the international airport in Kabul to help draw down its embassy staff.
About 3,000 troops were being sent to the airport and U.S. Embassy by the Department of Defence.