"Afghanistan is now at a dangerous turning point": UN envoy at Security Council meetingtext_fields
United Nations :In a special briefing to the UN Security Council on Friday, Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General's special representative for Afghanistan, warns that "Afghanistan is now at a dangerous turning point" as the war in the country has"entered a new, deadlier, and more destructive phase" in the past few weeks.
"In the past weeks, the war in Afghanistan has entered a new, deadlier, and more destructive phase. The Taliban campaign during June and July to capture rural areas has achieved significant territorial gains" Lyon said.
The provincial capitals of Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah in particular have come under significant pressure as the Taliban is continuing its relentless battles against government forces.
"This is a clear attempt by the Taliban to seize urban centres with the force of arms. The human toll of this strategy is extremely distressing and the political message is even more deeply disturbing" said Lyon.
She also stressed that the Security Council must issue an unambiguous statement that attacks against cities must stop now.
"Those countries that meet with the Taliban Political Commission should insist in these meetings on a general ceasefire, a resumption of the negotiations, as well as reiterate the position of the Security Council and that of the regional and international community that a government imposed by force in Afghanistan will not be recognised" Lyon added.
"As I have already mentioned, the travel ban exemption on Taliban members exists to allow them to travel for the sole purpose of peace negotiations. The exemption is to be renewed on 20 September. Further extension must be predicated on real progress on peace"the envoy further said.
According to Lyons, fighting has been especially severe in Laskhar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.
Since July 28, just 10 days ago, at least 104 civilians were killed and 403 wounded, as registered by the two main hospitals. Ground engagements and airstrikes are causing most of the civilian harm. All roads leading to and going out of the city are closed by the Taliban.
Lyons said what is reportedly happening in areas under Taliban control is also of great concern to us.
"It is heart-breaking to hear, for example, reports of summary executions, beatings and clampdown on media. Radio stations in particular have stopped broadcasting. We also hear the fears voiced to UNAMA by many Afghan women. They tell us that they fear they will be killed if the Taliban return to power simply because they worked for the government or an NGO," she added.