U.N. Chief Concerned by 'Chilling Reports' of Taliban Human Rights Violations Against Women

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Taliban to exercise "utmost restraint" and abide by international humanitarian law amid their takeover of Afghanistan.

"All of us have seen the images in real-time: chaos, unrest, uncertainty and fear," Guterres said at an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday. "Much lies in the balance. The progress, the hope, the dreams of a generation of young Afghan women and girls, boys and men."

The Taliban officially took over the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday evening after capturing key provinces at lightning speed over the past several weeks. The Taliban entered the palace after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Guterres said Monday that leaders are already receiving "chilling reports" of severe human rights restrictions throughout the country.

"I am particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days," he said.

Ghulam Isaczai, Afghanistan's U.N. ambassador, said Kabul residents are reporting the Taliban have begun house searches and are looking for people on their target list.

"Kabul residents are living in absolute fear right now," Isaczai said. He called on the security council to use "every means at its disposal" to request an immediate secession of violence and respect for human rights.

President Joe Biden has ordered roughly 6,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to help American and allied personnel leave the country. Videos have captured crowds of people at the Hamid Karzai International Airport trying to get on a flight out of Kabul.

On Sunday, more than 60 nations released a joint statement calling on all parties to "respect and facilitate" the departures of international citizens and Afghans who want to leave the country.

"Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility—and accountability—for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order," the statement read.

U.N. Chief Concerned Taliban Human Rights Violations
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he's concerned about "chilling reports" of human rights violations committed by the Taliban amid their takeover of Afghanistan. In this photo, Guterres addresses the media after a meeting on December 17, 2020 in Berlin. Michae Sohn/Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has defended the decision to remove American troops from Afghanistan amid the chaos. The president originally set an August 31 deadline to fully withdraw U.S. military forces from the country before the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

"When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001," Biden said in a statement Saturday. "I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth."

Guterres said Monday that the Afghan people deserve the "full support" of the international community. He called on all countries to accept Afghan refugees and refrain from any deportations.

"The following days will be pivotal," the United Nations chief said. "The world is watching. We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan."