United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a stark warning late Friday, saying that Afghanistan is "spinning out of control."
Calling on the Taliban to immediately halt the offensive and negotiate “in good faith” to avert a prolonged civil war, Guterres further said that the group is imposing heavy restrictions on human rights.
In his first and strongest appeal to the group, Guterres also said he was “deeply disturbed by early indications that the Taliban are imposing severe restrictions in the areas under their control, particularly targeting women and journalists.”
He said: “It is particularly horrifying and heartbreaking to see reports of the hard-won rights of Afghan girls and women being ripped away from them.”
“This is the moment to halt the offensive,” Guterres said. “This is the moment to start serious negotiation. This is the moment to avoid a prolonged civil war or the isolation of Afghanistan.”
United Nations has previously warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe should fighting that has engulfed much of Afghanistan reach the capital's streets.
The Taliban have made rapid gains in recent days, and have now taken control of 17 of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals. The insurgents captured Afghanistan's second and third largest cities of Kandahar and Herat on Thursday, and have advanced on five more provincial capitals.
Dujarric said there is no evacuation of U.N. personnel from the country, but said the international body is "evaluating hour by hour the security situation both in Kabul and in other locations."
"We very much want to deliver aid to those who need it in a moment where aid is extremely important," he said.
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