The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday morning after the Taliban appeared to take control of Afghanistan, where the UN has maintained an extensive aid operation since the early days of the American-led occupation two decades ago.
Secretary-General António Guterres, who had repeatedly condemned attacks on Afghan civilians and implored the Taliban and government representatives to negotiate a peaceful settlement, was expected to speak at the emergency meeting. On Friday, as it was becoming increasingly clear that the Afghan government was collapsing as Taliban fighters walked into city after city, Guterres said the country was “spinning out of control.”
It remains unclear how the Taliban would be regarded by the United Nations should the militant movement declare itself the legitimate power in Afghanistan. Many countries in the 193-member organisation have condemned the Taliban’s brutality and would most likely not recognise such a declaration.
The United Nations employs roughly 3,000 employees who are Afghan and about 720 international staff members in Afghanistan, but roughly half of the international staff have been working outside the country since the pandemic started last year.
UN officials have repeatedly said there were no plans to evacuate any staff members from the country. But Guterres’ spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, told reporters last week that the organisation was evaluating the security situation “hour by hour.”
The Taliban have pledged not to interfere in UN aid operations. But on 30 July, a UN office in the western city of Herat was attacked by the Taliban, and a local security official guarding the office was killed.
The main UN mission, based in Kabul, is known as the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, and was established in 2002 to help create a government following the American-led invasion.