Briefing to the United Nations Security Council by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, Kabul, 6 August 2021
KABUL, Afghanistan – I am extremely grateful for the opportunity of this special meeting on Afghanistan and the opportunity to brief you today. It is particularly important because Afghanistan is now at a dangerous turning point. Ahead lies either a genuine peace negotiation or a tragically intertwined set of crises: an increasingly brutal conflict combined with an acute humanitarian situation and multiplying human rights abuses.
Today we have an opportunity—an opportunity—to demonstrate the commitment of the UN Security Council and the regional and international community that you represent to prevent Afghanistan from descending into a situation of catastrophe so serious that it would have few, if any, parallels in this century. And let me assure you, such a catastrophe would have consequences far beyond the borders of Afghanistan. I do believe that the Security Council and the broader international community can help prevent the most dire scenarios. But it will require acting in unity and acting quickly. It will require acting.
In the past weeks, the war in Afghanistan has entered a new, deadlier, and more destructive phase. The Taliban campaign during June and July to capture rural areas has achieved significant territorial gains. From this strengthened position they have begun to attack the larger cities. The provincial capitals of Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah in particular have come under significant pressure. This is a clear attempt by the Taliban to seize urban centers with the force of arms. The human toll of this strategy is extremely distressing—and the political message is even more deeply disturbing.
Read the full briefing here.