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U.N. Return to Afghanistan: ‘This is Completely Insane’

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03.09.2021

What happens to the country and its people after the forever war ends?

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As thousands of people continue their exodus from Afghanistan fearing reprisals from a Taliban notorious for extreme human rights abuses, the United Nations is preparing to send its staff back into the field to manage what is expected to be a major humanitarian relief effort.

The decision to tough it out in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan has raised alarm among some U.N. international—and particularly Afghan—staff, many of whom fear for their lives and have been struggling to secure safe passage out of the country. “Make no mistake—this is completely insane,” said one U.N. official briefed on the plan.

The move comes as the United Nations faces increasing pressure from key powers—including the United States, China, Russia, and Pakistan, which has already established an air bridge between Islamabad and Kabul—to resume humanitarian operations in Afghanistan. It reflects mounting concern from governments and the United Nations that a country already struggling to meet the basic needs of its people could spiral into a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe. It also comes as the United Nations’ humanitarian branch is laying the groundwork for a possible high-level mission to Afghanistan.

As thousands of people continue their exodus from Afghanistan fearing reprisals from a Taliban notorious for extreme human rights abuses, the United Nations is preparing to send its staff back into the field to manage what is expected to be a major humanitarian relief effort.

The decision to tough it out in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan has raised alarm among some U.N. international—and particularly Afghan—staff, many of whom fear for their lives and have been struggling to secure safe passage out of the country. “Make no mistake—this is completely insane,” said one U.N. official briefed on the plan.

The move comes as the United Nations faces increasing pressure from key powers—including the United States, China, Russia, and Pakistan, which has already established an air bridge between Islamabad and Kabul—to resume humanitarian operations in Afghanistan. It reflects mounting concern from governments and the United Nations that a country already struggling to meet the basic needs of its people could spiral into a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe. It also comes as the United Nations’ humanitarian branch is laying the groundwork for a possible high-level mission to Afghanistan.

“Many, many, Afghan lives are at risk,” wrote Liam McDowall, the spokesperson for the U.N. mission in Afghanistan. “The U.N. family will do everything it can to save lives while at the same time protecting the safety of its personnel.”

“In the last few months Afghanistan experienced a mass upheaval as the conflict escalated with hundreds of civilians killed and injured,” McDowall added. “The U.N. safeguarded all its staff throughout this turbulent period and we are determined to keep doing so while looking to ramp up assistance to millions of the most vulnerable Afghans who so desperately need the world’s help right now.

A series of internal U.N. documents obtained by Foreign Policy detail just how tenuous the security situation is for U.N. officials operating in a new, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, with........

© Foreign Policy


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