Afghan UN envoy says Taliban attacks on cities “must stop now”
United Nations (United States) (AFP)
The United Nations envoy to Afghanistan on Friday called on the Taliban to immediately cease attacks on major cities, warning that the conflict-torn country was heading for “catastrophe.”
Deborah Lyons, head of the United Nations aid operation in Afghanistan, painted a grim picture of the deteriorating situation in the country during a special meeting at UN headquarters in New York.
“The Security Council must issue an unambiguous statement that attacks on cities must stop now,” Lyons told the 15 council members via a video link from Kabul.
The Taliban control large swathes of the countryside and now challenge Afghan government forces in several major cities, including Herat, near the western border with Iran, as well as Laskhar Gah and Kandahar in the south.
The war has also become increasingly widespread in the capital Kabul, with insurgents gunning the Afghan government’s media chief on Friday.
The insurgents took advantage of the security vacuum left by the withdrawal of American forces.
Fighting has been raging since May, when the United States and other foreign forces began the first stage of a troop withdrawal expected to be completed later this month.
“Today we have an opportunity,” Lyons pleaded with the board.
“An opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of the UN Security Council, and the regional and international community that you represent to prevent Afghanistan from sinking into a disaster situation, so serious that it would have little or no damage. ‘equivalents in this century,’ she added. noted.
Lyons added that countries meeting with representatives of the Taliban should “insist on a general ceasefire” and a “resumption” of negotiations.
She said a travel ban exemption allowing Taliban members to travel solely for the purpose of peace negotiations should only be extended next month “based on real progress on peace.”
“The council should seriously consider giving the United Nations a mandate to play, at the request of both sides, a greater role in facilitating negotiations,” Lyons added.
The public meeting was called Thursday following requests from Estonia, Norway and Afghanistan.
© 2021 AFP