UN document says Taliban threatened and beat staff: report
New York / London:
The Taliban arrested an Afghan United Nations staff member on Sunday as he attempted to reach Kabul airport. They searched his vehicle and found his UN identification. Then they beat him.
On Monday, three unknown men visited the home of another UN staff member who was working at the time. They asked his son where his father was and accused him of lying: “We know his location and what he is doing.
The incidents are among dozens contained in a UN internal security document viewed by Reuters that describes veiled threats, looting of UN offices and physical abuse of staff since August 10, shortly before. the coming to power of the Taliban.
While the Islamist terrorist movement sought to reassure Afghans and Western powers that they would respect people’s rights, reports of retaliation have undermined confidence, especially among those associated with foreign organizations.
The Taliban did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the UN incident list.
The group said it would investigate the reported abuses and also encouraged humanitarian organizations to continue their work. He said this week that aid was welcome, as long as it was not used as a means of political influence over Afghanistan.
The United Nations said it had not commented on the leaked security documents.
UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric added: “The authorities in charge in Kabul are responsible for the safety and security of UN personnel and premises. We remain in contact with them in this regard.
The UN has relocated about a third of the 300 foreign employees it had in Afghanistan to Kazakhstan. He also stressed that he wanted to maintain a presence to help the Afghan people.
There are still around 3,000 Afghan UN personnel in the country. A UN spokesperson said the global body was in contact with other countries to urge them to provide visas or support the temporary relocation of some of them.
Thousands of people have fled Afghanistan since the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, boarding military and commercial flights from the capital where the airport has been the scene of deadly chaos.
Some fear a return to the Taliban’s brutal enforcement of strict Islamic law the last time they ruled, when they banned women from working and girls from going to school.
Others, including those working in advocacy and human rights, believe they could be the target of retaliation after dozens of people were killed in alleged targeted attacks by the Taliban. last year.
“We are in danger”
An Afghan woman, who has worked for the United Nations for several years, told Reuters she felt abandoned.
“All the women I know have the same fear as me. What will happen to our children now if we are punished for our work? What will happen to our families? What are they going to do to us as women? she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In a video message to staff in Afghanistan on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was shocked by reports that some had been harassed and intimidated.
“We are doing everything in our power, in particular through a permanent engagement with all the actors concerned, and will continue to do so to ensure your safety and your well-being, and to find external solutions where they are needed. are needed, ”Guterres said.
A UN risk assessment from Aug. 21, reported by Reuters on Tuesday, said there was “no consistent command and control” within the Taliban.
The speed of their military victory, which coincided with the withdrawal of US-led foreign troops after 20 years of war, has left a power vacuum, and the group scrambles to form a government in Kabul and the provinces. to run the country.
An Afghan UN employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that he knew at least 50 Afghan personnel who had been warned or threatened by the Taliban, adding: “National personnel of the UN which is seriously threatened directly by the Taliban must be evacuated “.
He said the threats were not all necessarily related to the status of people at the United Nations, but were a function of pressure from the Taliban to impose control of Kabul.
A second Afghan woman who works at the United Nations has moved with her husband and three-year-old daughter in the past 10 days. Some of her neighbors knew she worked at the United Nations, and she feared they would find out.
She has a visa for a neighboring country, but is frustrated that the United Nations did not help her evacuate.
“We expected the whole United Nations system to help us. We honestly expected it,” the woman said. “We’re in danger. And if we can’t work, who’s going to touch the people?”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)