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Taliban 'intensifying' search for Afghans who worked for US – UN report

Taliban fighters stand along a road in Kabul on August 18, 2021, after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. Wakil KOHSAR / AFP
Taliban fighters stand along a road in Kabul on August 18, 2021, after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. Wakil KOHSAR / AFP Copyright Wakil KOHSAR / AFP
Copyright Wakil KOHSAR / AFP
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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The Taliban have been conducting "targeted door-to-door visits" of individuals they want to apprehend and their family members, a UN report says, despite their promise not to seek revenge on opponents.

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The Taliban is intensifying a search for people who worked with US and NATO forces, a confidential United Nations document says, despite the militants vowing no revenge against opponents.

The report by the UN's threat-assessment consultants says the group has "priority lists" of individuals it wants to arrest.

It corroborates testimonies from dozens of Afghans inside the country, including a former employee of EUPOL, a European Union agency training Afghan police, and a former staffer at the Dutch embassy, both of whom told Euronews Taliban fighters were going door to door in Kabul to identify people who had worked for the international community.

Taliban fighters and checkpoints ringed Kabul airport on Thursday, adding to fears for Afghan nationals who previously worked for the West. This evening German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said the Taliban had shot and killed one of its reporters' family members.

The militant group has promised safe passage to Kabul Airport to foreigners. But Afghan nationals eligible for evacuation have reported difficulties and violence.

Planeloads of EU citizens and Afghan refugees have been landing in Europe throughout Thursday. But chaos at the airport continues, while the Taliban opened fire on an Independence Day protest in Kabul and a fledgling resistance movement continues to assert its presence in the northeast.

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The U.S.-based International Refugee Assistance Programme has said about 100,000 Afghans seeking evacuation through a US visa programme have so far applied. The State Department had put the figure at 80,000 on Monday.

Other western countries including France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK are also evacuating their citizens and locals who worked for them.

US President Joe Biden stressed on Wednesday that Washington, whose forces control the airport in Kabul, would do "everything in our power" to evacuate Americans and US allies.

Pressed repeatedly on how the administration would help those left in the country after that date, Biden said: "if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay till we get them all out.”

'Actions, rather than words'

The Taliban, which is seeking to establish what it terms an 'inclusive' government, met with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Wednesday.

Karzai was joined by the former government's main peace envoy, Abdullah Abdullah, in the first sign of engagement between the Taliban and the ousted government since the fall of Kabul last Sunday.

The preliminary meeting was intended to facilitate eventual negotiations with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the top Taliban political leader, a spokesperson for Karzai said.

The group has also sought to appease the international community since the takeover, declaring a "general amnesty" and stressing there would be "many differences" in the way they administered the country compared to their previous period in power.

The Taliban has said, for instance, that women will not be obliged to wear the burqa, the Islamic full-body covering, and may be allowed to work - within the bounds of its reading of Islamic law.

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This is unlikely to appease other countries. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged foreign countries on Wednesday not to recognise a Taliban regime "prematurely or bilaterally", calling instead for them to "work together towards new conditions" for the new regime to respect.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian issued a similar call, writing on Twitter: "I have asked that the Taliban demonstrate by their actions that they have changed as they claim. It is up to them to prove it."

Afghanistan loses access to IMF resources

Failure to be recognised by the international community would lead to further economic strain for Afghanistan — already one of the poorest countries in the world.

Gerry Rice, the spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), revealed on Wednesday evening that Afghanistan had lost access to Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) or other IMF resources.

"The IMF is guided by the views of the international community. There is currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan," he explained.

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The Taliban have also urged foreign countries not to cut financial assistance and said production of opium — from which they derived a large chunk of their revenues over the past two decades — will be brought back to "zero".

Both the EU and Germany have already announced that they are suspending development aid to the country until further notice.

It came as the head of the UN's food agency said that Afghanistan was "on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe" due to the conflict, the nation's second severe drought in three years, and the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mary Ellen McGroarty, the World Food Programme’s country director, told UN correspondents from Kabul that more than 40 per cent of crops had been lost, and hundreds of thousands displaced, ahead of the approaching winter. "The race is on to get food where it’s most needed," she said.

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