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U.N. Afghanistan Envoy Issues Desperate Plea to Avert Catastrophe

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06.08.2021

A top United Nations official warned Friday that Afghanistan risks “descending into a situation of catastrophe so serious that it would have few, if any, parallels this century” as U.S. forces complete their withdrawal. The pullout ends a 20-year-long military campaign that has left the country at the mercy of a resurgent Taliban force, which has launched a violent offensive against major cities that is reminiscent of the siege of Sarajevo at the height of the Yugoslav war.

“This is now a different kind of war, reminiscent of Syria recently or Sarajevo in the not-so-distant past,” Deborah Lyons, the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Afghanistan, told the U.N. Security Council. The conflict, she said, has “entered a new, deadlier, and more destructive phase” as the Taliban transition from a campaign to seize rural communities to an all-out assault on major cities including Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah. The Taliban’s military tactics, she added, may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A top United Nations official warned Friday that Afghanistan risks “descending into a situation of catastrophe so serious that it would have few, if any, parallels this century” as U.S. forces complete their withdrawal. The pullout ends a 20-year-long military campaign that has left the country at the mercy of a resurgent Taliban force, which has launched a violent offensive against major cities that is reminiscent of the siege of Sarajevo at the height of the Yugoslav war.

“This is now a different kind of war, reminiscent of Syria recently or Sarajevo in the not-so-distant past,” Deborah Lyons, the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Afghanistan, told the U.N. Security Council. The conflict, she said, has “entered a new, deadlier, and more destructive phase” as the Taliban transition from a campaign to seize rural communities to an all-out assault on major cities including Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah. The Taliban’s military tactics, she added, may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“To attack urban areas is to knowingly inflict enormous harm and cause massive civilian casualties,” she said. “Nonetheless, the threatening of large urban areas appears to be a strategic decision by the........

© Foreign Policy


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