“The following days will be pivotal,” Guterres said. “The world is watching. We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan.”
Guterres said that roughly 18 million people, or about half its population, are in need of humanitarian assistance and urged the Taliban to allow “unimpeded access” to humanitarian aid workers carrying out those efforts.
The secretary-general and others expressed particular concern for the rights of women and girls of Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
“Every Afghan should be able to live in safety, security and dignity,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations.
Thomas-Greenfield also said that the international community “must all ensure Afghanistan can not ever, ever again be a base for terrorism.”
The swift collapse of the Afghan government came as the United States neared the end of its process of withdrawing from the country after nearly 20 years, raising questions about the Biden administration’s strategy and the military’s yearslong effort to build up the Afghan security forces.
Ghulam Isaczai, the Afghan government’s U.N. representative, urged the Security Council to deny legitimacy to the Taliban, which on Sunday declared the establishment of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
He added that the scene in Kabul in recent days is “extremely worrying, to say the least.”
Members of the Security Council later issued a joint statement seeking “an immediate cessation of all hostilities” and urging those involved to negotiate a settlement “that upholds human rights, including for women, children and minorities.”