Human rights organisations and individuals inside Afghanistan continued to sound the alarm on Friday about attacks on progressives, minority groups and Afghans who worked with the former government and foreign states.
Amnesty International also reported that nine members of a minority ethnic group were shot and tortured to death by Taliban fighters in Ghazni province last month.
Following an urgent meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Friday afternoon, the group issued a joint statement expressing concern over the “grave events" in Afghanistan and called for “an immediate end to violence" and “serious human rights violations and abuses."
Confusion still reigns over whether the Taliban will permit Afghans eligible for evacuation to get inside Kabul Airport, which is still overcrowded as desperate families try to flee the country.
European countries continued to fly out their citizens and Afghan former colleagues on Friday, with Spain agreeing to shelter people on the way to their destinations.
But a recent diplomatic spat has left 32 Afghan refugees stranded on the Polish-Belarusian border, while Turkey has pressed ahead with plans to build a vast border wall blocking off on-foot arrivals from Iran.
- The Taliban has said it wants "good relations" with the rest of the world
- Amnesty International reports the group tortured and killed a number of ethnic minority members in July
- An ex-senior NATO official has warned terror threats will be on the rise
- European countries continue to evacuate hundreds from a crowded Kabul Airport
- NATO foreign ministers and US President Joe Biden have said again their priority is getting citizens and Afghan partners out of the country
- Social media platforms have joined a drive to help Afghans fearing reprisal from the Taliban to protect their identities online
Biden: Our mission is to get Americans and allies out of Afghanistan
Asked by a reporter why the US did not carry out large-scale evacuations earlier in 2021, knowing a Taliban resurgence was on the cards, Biden again blamed the Afghan army's failure to hold off the Taliban for longer: "The overwhelming consensus was that they were not going to collapse... not just abandon, put down their arms, and take off."
Analysis: Five factors that were Afghan government's downfall
"Some 13 years ago an Afghan friend of mine gifted me a pair of US-army boots bought from a middle-man in front of the Bagram Airbase, apparently in exchange for Afghan hashish and directly from a US soldier or from an Afghan army official."
So writes Masoud Imani Kalesar, an Iranian-born Euronews reporter who spent time in Kabul. As the wider world grapples to understand how the Taliban managed to take back near-total control of Afghanistan in 11 days, Masoud gives his own, clear-eyed take on the five key factors that compelled the collapse of the Afghan government and army.
We need to work harder on Kabul evacuations, says NATO chief
NATO foreign ministers committed on Friday to focus on ensuring the safe evacuation from Afghanistan of their citizens and of Afghans deemed at risk after the Taliban takeover.
Faced with continuing chaos in the capital and the exit roads, many of the 30 allied nations raised “the need to work harder on how we can get more people ... into the airport, then processed and then onto the planes,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
He called that "the big, big, big challenge.”
All too often over the past hours and days, NATO planes have been able to get to Kabul, only to be forced to leave empty or near-empty.
Some allies called on the United States to secure Kabul airport for as long as it takes, even if that stretches beyond the evacuation of all U.S. nationals.
A joint statement Friday said that “as long as evacuation operations continue, we will maintain our close operational cooperation through Allied military means” at the airport.
Human rights lawyer warns Afghan women are already cut off from public life
Social networks deploy new features to protect Afghans' identities
Merkel to Putin: Foreground Germany's Afghan colleagues in Taliban talks
Stoltenberg: Any NATO recognition of Taliban depends on behaviour
Turkey presses ahead with border wall to stop Afghans trying to flee through Iran
Italian NGO's Afghan ex-staff trapped in homes after military rebuffal
On Thursday a confidential United Nations document, leaked to the media, had warned that the Taliban was intensifying a search for people who worked with US and NATO forces.
Fighters, the UN's intelligence contractors wrote, had established "priority lists" of individuals they wanted to arrest.
"They are targeting the families of those who refuse to give themselves up, and prosecuting and punishing their families 'according to Sharia law,'" Christian Nellemann, executive director of the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, which compiled the report for the UN, told AFP.
"We expect both individuals previously working with NATO/US forces and their allies, alongside with their family members, to be exposed to torture and executions."
'We cannot abandon them'
European countries are still scrambling to evacuate those they originally deemed eligible, while calls are mounting for some states to do more.
Access to Kabul Airport is being made more difficult by hundreds of Afghans, who are not part of the official programmes, crowding the concourse outside and hoping to find a way out.
Shocking footage circulated on social media this week appeared to show parents handing their babies young children to US military officers, to be passed into the airport compound.
The UK has announced it will take in up to 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next four years, on top of those now eligible for relocation because of their past work for the British embassy or army.
France and Germany have meanwhile called for the EU to plan to manage the expected surge in refugees coming from Afghanistan.
In a phone call on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed to US President Joe Biden there was a "moral responsibility, that we collectively have, towards Afghan men and women who need our protection and who share our values... We cannot abandon them."
In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also asked Russia to raise the issue of Afghans who had worked with German forces and development groups being allowed safe passage out of the country.