The first international commercial flight under Afghanistan’s new Taliban interim government departed Kabul on Thursday carrying more than 100 foreigners, including some United States (US) citizens left behind after last month’s chaotic Western airlift.
The flight marked an important step in the Taliban’s efforts to create a functioning state after they seized power last month, although there were growing reports of violence against women, foreigners and journalists.
UN Special Envoy on Afghanistan Deborah Lyons told the Security Council that non-governmental organisations supporting women were being targeted, women’s freedoms had been restricted and the United Nations’ Afghan staff were being harassed and intimidated.
“The UN cannot conduct its work, work that is so essential to the Afghan people. Its personnel are subjected to intimidation, fear for their lives, and cannot move freely,” Lyons told the Security Council.
NATO reaches out to Taliban in Afghanistan:
An internal UN security document seen by Reuters on August 25 described dozens of incidents including veiled threats, the looting of UN offices and physical abuse of staff since August 10, five days before the Taliban swept to power.
Senior US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis told the Security Council the United States was “outraged at reports that members of the Taliban have engaged in reprisals against UN staff throughout the country. This is simply unacceptable.”
The harassment of UN staff came as the country was in danger of “a total breakdown of the economy and social order” without an infusion of money, Lyons said.
She also said there were rising reports of the Taliban imposing curbs on women similar to those when they ruled from 1996 to 2001, despite a promise by leaders to respect women’s rights in accordance with sharia.