Brussels (Brussels Morning) The UN warned that its staff in Afghanistan are facing more intimidation and harassment since the Taliban retook the country last month.
Deborah Lyons, UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, noted that UN facilities were largely respected with only a few exceptions, according to Reuters reporting on Friday.
“We are… increasingly worried by the growing number of incidents of harassment and intimidation against our national staff,” she noted at the recent UN Security Council meeting and added “we will continue to do everything possible to support our staff and keep them from harm’s way.”
According to an internal UN security document from the end of August, UN staff in Afghanistan faced threats and physical abuse since 10 August and UN offices were looted.
“The UN cannot conduct its work – work that is so essential to the Afghan people – if its personnel are subjected to intimidation, fear for their lives, and cannot move freely,” Lyons pointed out at the meeting.
Reports of abuse continue to undermine the confidence of Western countries in the Taliban’s promise to respect people’s rights.
US decries harassment
“We are outraged at reports that members of the Taliban have engaged in reprisals against UN staff throughout the country,” Jeffrey DeLaurentis, former acting US Ambassador to Cuba, pointed out at the meeting on Thursday.
Calling on the Taliban to respect UN’s neutrality and independence, he noted that threats and intimidation are “simply unacceptable.”
DeLaurentis added that the Taliban reportedly did not allow some female UN staff and its aid partners to come to work without a male chaperone or come to work at all.
“To call these reported incidents ‘outrageous’ would be an understatement,” DeLaurentis noted and concluded “all UN staff members must be able to conduct their work without undue burden and without discrimination as to who they are.”