U.N. Secretary General asks Taliban to protect human rights

“The world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead,” Mr Guterres said.

Speaking at a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting, convened to discuss the unravelling of Afghanistan over the weekend as the Taliban took over its capital, Kabul, Secretary General Antonio Guterres asked the insurgents to protect the rights of Afghans.

“The world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead,” Mr Guterres said.

The Security Council, whose President is currently India, met for an open meeting for over an hour on Monday, following which it went into closed consultations. Mr Guterres’s remarks were made in the open segment of the meeting.

“I remind all parties of their obligation to protect civilians,” he said. “ I call upon the Taliban and all parties to respect and protect international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all persons.”

Mr Guterres said there were “chilling” reports of “severe restrictions on human rights” emerging from across the country. He said he was particularly concerned about the rights of women and girls and that their “hard-won” rights must be protected.

“They are looking to the international community for support — the same international community that assured them that opportunities would be expanded, education would be guaranteed, freedoms would spread and rights would be secured,” he said.

The Secretary General asked the international community to unite to ensure that Afghanistan is never again as a safe haven for terrorist organizations.

“I appeal to the Security Council — and the international community as a whole — to stand together, to work together and act together — and use all tools at its disposal to suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan and to guarantee that basic human rights will be respected,” he said.

Mr. Guterres sad he was relieved that U.N. staff and premises had largely been respected and he called on the Taliban to “honour the integrity and inviolability” of diplomats and diplomatic premises.

“In a statement issued yesterday, the Taliban said that they would work with existing institutions. It is crucial that civil servant salaries continue to be paid, infrastructure is maintained, airports are reopened, and health and education services continue,” he said. He also asked Afghanistan to comply with international agreements to which it is a party.

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