UN warns of Taliban reprisals as Afghans targeted

Unconfirmed reports the group will hold a swearing in ceremony on Saturday

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As airline flights resumed from Kabul, and the US praised the Taliban for allowing US citizens to leave Afghanistan, the UN said the group may be killing opponents in reprisals.

The UN envoy for Afghanistan said the Taliban may be looking for people it perceives as enemies, although Washington said the Taliban was “businesslike and professional” in allowing an aircraft carrying 100 people to leave.

The group, which announced the members of its Cabinet on Tuesday, claims it has changed from the days of its brutal rule between 1996 and 2001.

But protesters and journalists were beaten by its gunmen in recent days.

“We are also concerned that despite the many statements granting general amnesties ... there have been credible allegations of reprisal killings,” envoy Deborah Lyons said.

She said Afghan security officials and people who worked for the previous administration were at risk.

More than 100 passengers were on the Qatar Airways flight that landed in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday evening, 10 days after a chaotic airlift of more than 120,000 people came to a close with the US pullout.

In the days that followed the Taliban's lightning campaign to regain control of the country, Hamid Karzai International Airport had become a symbol of the desperation among Afghans terrified of the militants' return to power.

Thousands of people crowding around its gates each day, some clung to jets as they took off.

More than 100 people were killed, including 13 US military personnel, in a suicide attack on August 26 near the airport that was claimed by ISIS's Afghan affiliate.

As news of a resumption in evacuation flights spread, some people gathered at the airport gates, pleading with Taliban guards to get in.

“If I can't go just kill me!” said one woman, among a group of women and children, each carrying backpacks.

Meanwhile, the UN's World Food Programme has said 93 per cent of Afghan households were not getting enough food.

“Three in four families are already reducing portion sizes or borrowing food,” according to random phone surveys carried out from August 21 to September 5 in all the country's 34 provinces, said WFP deputy regional director for Asia Pacific Anthea Webb.

“Parents are skipping meals entirely to allow children to eat.”

“The proportion of households resorting to extreme coping strategies has doubled – a clear sign that many families are teetering on the edge of absolute destitution,” Ms Webb said.

The UN is seeking to raise $600 million for Afghanistan at a Geneva conference that starts on Monday.

The UAE sent a seventh aid plane to Afghanistan on Thursday. This is intended to help more than 300,000 people, mostly women and children.

Updated: September 11, 2021, 3:18 PM
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