UN chief says Afghanistan ‘spirals out of control’ as Taliban advance

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday that the situation in Afghanistan “is spiraling out of control” as the Taliban continue to advance rapidly.

“The fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in urban areas is causing enormous damage,” the UN chief said. “Humanitarian needs are increasing hour by hour.

The secretary-general said that over the past month more than 1,000 people were killed and at least 241,000 others were forced to flee their homes.

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The Taliban took control of 240 of Afghanistan’s 421 districts, with the government retaining only 65 districts. About a quarter of the nation is still considered disputed territory, according to the Long War Journal.

The country’s second and third largest cities, Kandahar and Herat, fell to the Taliban on Friday, prompting the evacuation of US and UK embassies in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Guterres said the UN was “determined” to contribute to a peace deal between the Taliban and Afghan government forces.

“Every day, the conflict claims even more victims among women and children,” he said.

The UN chief highlighted not only the devastating destruction of roads, bridges and adequate access to food and health care, but also the human rights violations occurring across the country.

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“Directing attacks against civilians is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime,” he said. “It is particularly horrific and heartbreaking to see reports of the hard-won rights of Afghan girls and women being taken away from them. “

Guterres warned that taking Afghanistan by force would only amount to a long civil war and the potential isolation of the war-ridden nation.

The UN chief did not go into details on how the intergovernmental body will facilitate peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

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In place, he urged the insurgent force to withdraw and consider the safety of Afghan civilians.

“I call on the Taliban to immediately stop the offensive and to negotiate in good faith in the interest of Afghanistan and its people,” Guterres said.

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