Afghanistan: Flash Analysis and Prediction (13 September 2021)


The UN says staff are increasingly being harassed by the Taliban.

Deborah Lyons, UN Special Envoy on Afghanistan, said on 09 September, that the UN was "increasingly worried by the growing number of incidents of harassment and intimidation against our national staff". This comes following a leaked UN report seen by Reuters on 25 August that catalogued dozens of incidents where Afghan UN staff members have been threatened by Taliban fighters.


The Taliban entered Kabul on 15 August, following the swift collapse of the Afghanistan Army, taking control of the country. Senior Taliban figures promised they would be more inclusive and rule with a less extreme hand than they had between 1996 and 2001, and would include women and minorities in decision making. However, their 33–strong cabinet, revealed on 07 September, included no women or minority Afghan citizens, instead, a hard-line all male leadership with at least two members wanted by the FBI and/or on the UN Global Terror watchlist.

The Taliban at first had appeared keen to welcome humanitarian missions, meeting with the Head of OCHA, and aid organisations reporting a cooperative atmosphere. However, harassment by ground Taliban fighters has increased, with reports in mainstream media from 19 August (see 25 August-07 September Aid in Danger Bi-Monthly News Brief, Afghanistan section) noting Afghan staff had been stopped from travelling or searched by the Taliban. The 25 August report adds that there have been dozens of reports of Afghan UN staff receiving “veiled threats, the looting of UN offices and physical abuse of staff since 10 August” – even prior to the Taliban taking control of the country.

UN Secretary General Antionio Guterres announced on 13 September that donors had pledged over 1 billion USD at the UN hosted donor conference in Geneva. The US estimates that over 600 million USD are needed before December to keep aid programmes afloat. Many countries willing to provide aid have expressed growing hesitation due to concerns about how funds will be spent with the Taliban in power. The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that it was up to the international community to ‘’take responsibility’’ for the people in Afghanistan. He noted that aid agencies needed ‘’proper access’’ and aid workers had to be able to carry out their work ‘’without fear of intimidation, tyranny or restriction by the Taliban’’ after he pledged 500 million EUR to support Afghanistan and neighbouring states.