United Nations/Kabul: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the situation in Afghanistan is rapidly “spinning out of control” and asked the Taliban to immediately halt their nationwide offensive, even as the militant group was reported to be just 50 km away from Kabul on Saturday.
Guterres asked the Taliban to immediately return to the peace table and said seizing power through military forces is a losing proposition.
“I remind all parties of their obligation to protect civilians and I call on the Taliban to immediately end the offensive and return to the peace table,” Guterres said on Friday.
“Afghanistan is spinning out of control,” he said. “Every day, the conflict is taking a bigger toll on civilians, especially women and children.”
His warning came as the Islamist militia are camped just 50 kilometers away from Kabul, according to some reports.
The US and other countries have begun to airlift their nationals out of Kabul.
According to reports, US embassy staff were ordered to begin shredding and burning documents, even as 3,000 American troops started arriving to secure Kabul airport and oversee the evacuations.
Britain, Germany, Denmark and Spain have all announced the withdrawal of personnel from their respective embassies on Friday.
The UN chief said that in the last month alone, more than 1,000 people have been killed or injured from indiscriminate attacks against civilians, notably in Helmand, Kandahar and Herat provinces.
“The fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in urban environments is causing tremendous harm. I am also 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,” Guterres said.
He said that it is particularly horrifying and heartbreaking to see reports of the hard-won rights of Afghan girls and women being ripped away from them.
“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 added.
He called 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 said.
‘This is the moment to halt the offensive,” the UN chief said. “This is the moment to start serious negotiation. This is the moment to avoid a prolonged civil war or the isolation of Afghanistan.”
The Taliban seized at least four provincial capitals on Thursday and Friday, including the city of Herat in western Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south.