UN Secretary-General says ‘millions of deaths’ inevitable without Taliban cooperation

Taliban to hold 'oath-taking ceremony' on September 11th

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In an interview with news agency AFP on Thursday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN has to cooperate with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Mr. Guterres said having talks with the militants who took over the country last month is the only way to prevent a worldwide financial tumble and countless deaths.

“The Taliban crave recognition and demand that any sanctions against them and their new regime be pulled out,” said the UN leader.

“They want financial support which means we can leverage that.”

The Secretary-General went on saying the current refusal to recognize the new government formed by the Taliban might have disastrous consequences.

As of now, leaders in the US, the UK, and other Western countries such as France have refused to consider the self-appointed government members of the Taliban as their counterparts.

According to Guterres, this lack of dialogue can only lead to “a worldwide financial tumble that could be a humanitarian nightmare for the Afghan people.”

“If we don’t want Afghanistan to turn into a terrorism centre, if we don’t want to witness Afghan women and girls lose every single right they fought for in the past, we don’t have a choice but to initiate talks with the Taliban”, he claimed.

The UN leader then said the objective of the global organisation was to make sure Afghanistan finds peace and stability with a proper government that respects human rights.

“Until now, in the discussions that we have had, there is at least a receptivity to talk,” added Guterres, who does not rule out going to Afghanistan one day if conditions are right.

“Do we have any guarantees? No, we don’t. This situation could go both ways.”

“Our duty is to extend our solidarity to a people who suffer greatly, where millions and millions risk dying of hunger,” Guterres added.

In a report released on Thursday, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) mentioned that about 97 percent of Afghanistan’s population may sink below the poverty line unless the country’s political and economic crises are addressed.

Nearly $10bn of Afghanistan’s central bank assets are currently frozen overseas and considered key leverage over the new administration.

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“The economy must be allowed to breathe for a few more months, giving the Taliban a chance to demonstrate flexibility and a genuine will to do things differently this time, notably from a human rights, gender, and counterterrorism perspective,” said UN special envoy in Afghanistan Deborah Lyons to the Security Council on Thursday.

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