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UN Security Council to Taliban: Let Afghans Leave Safely


U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield addresses the United Nations Security Council regarding the situation in Afghanistan at the United Nations in New York City, Aug. 16, 2021.

The U.N. Security Council told the Taliban on Monday it expects them to allow the safe passage of all Afghans and foreigners who want to leave the country.

Of the council’s 15 members, Russia and China abstained on the draft resolution, written by the United States, Britain and France, while all other members supported it.

The council noted the Taliban’s August 27 statement that it would not prevent Afghans who want to leave from doing so by land or air. The council said it “expects the Taliban will adhere to these and all other commitments, including regarding the safe, secure and orderly departure from Afghanistan of Afghans and all foreign nationals.”

FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2021, file photo, hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at the perimeter of the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2021, file photo, hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at the perimeter of the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Chaotic images from the Kabul airport since the Taliban swept into the capital on August 15 show the desperation of many Afghans to flee the country. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States has facilitated the evacuation of 122,000 Americans, Afghans and other nationals since late July.

“The Security Council expects the Taliban to live up to its commitment to facilitate safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan, whether it’s today, tomorrow or after August 31,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Some Afghans fear reprisals for working with the U.S. and NATO forces as interpreters and in other roles, while women and minorities are terrified of a return to the repression and human rights abuses of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Taliban first rose to power in the country.

“We cannot airlift an entire country to safety,” the U.S. envoy told reporters after the vote. “This is the moment where diplomacy has to step up.”

The Security Council also strongly condemned the “deplorable attacks” Thursday on the airport, which killed scores of Afghans and 13 U.S. military personnel. The blasts were claimed by the so-called Islamic State affiliate Khorasan, also known as ISIS-K.

The council demands in its resolution that Afghanistan’s territory “not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts.”

Both the Taliban and ISIS-K are under sanctions as Security Council-designated terrorist groups.

Russia said it abstained because its concerns were not taken into consideration. China expressed “huge doubts” about whether the resolution’s content was balanced.

Both Moscow and Beijing have expressed a willingness to work with the Taliban.

FILE - Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks during a daily briefing in Beijing, Jan. 29, 2019.
FILE - Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks during a daily briefing in Beijing, Jan. 29, 2019.

“We are ready to continue to develop good, neighborly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in the peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan,” China’s deputy U.N. envoy Geng Shuang said.

Council members also reaffirmed the importance of upholding human rights, especially of women, calling for their “full, equal and meaningful participation” in a negotiated political settlement.

Several Western diplomats said they had heard the Taliban’s various assurances but would wait to see them put into practice.

“The Taliban will be judged by the international community on the basis of their actions on the ground, not their words,” British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said.

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