With the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, thousands have been left scrambling to evacuate from Kabul airport. Over the last two weeks, there have been instances of sporadic violence in and around the capital city, with several individuals being killed or injured. While the US is working to finish evacuations by the end of this month, there are several obstacles to contend with - from the threat of terror attacks to clashes with the militants.
Even as thousands of people try to reach a dwindling number of evacuation flights, reports suggested recently that members of the international body have been beaten or abused as they make efforts to leave the country. Reuters quoted an internal UN security document to say that dozens of incidents involving UN officials and the Taliban have occurred over the month of August as the Taliban began their rise to power.
Reportedly, the Taliban had stopped an Afghan United Nations staff member as he tried to reach Kabul airport over the weekend. Having searched the vehicle and found his UN identification, they had then beaten him. In another incident on Monday, three unknown men had visited the home of a UN staff member who had been at work. While the official had been at work, the militants remained unconvinced, asking his son about his whereabouts and accused him of lying.
"We’re on track to complete our mission in Afghanistan by Aug 31, provided the Taliban continue to cooperate, and there are no disruptions. But let me be clear, there's no deadline on our work to help remaining US citizens and Afghan partners who decide they want to leave to do so," assured US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken on Wednesday.
This however might be easier said than done. Even as the war-torn nation grapples with such incidents, a second and far more significant threat has risen. On Thursday, multiple countries including the US and Australia issued warnings about a 'very high threat of terrorist attack' at Kabul Airport.
The threat comes from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant which had, among other things, executed a horrifying terror attack at a Kabul gurudwara last year. As the US forges grimly ahead with the largest airlift in the country's history, President Joe Biden said recently that he is mindful of the "increasing risks" associated with the same.
"The longer we stay, starting with the acute and growing risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as ISIS-K, an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan which is the sworn enemy of the Taliban as well. Every day we're on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and Allied forces and innocent civilians," Biden had said on Tuesday night.
Similar concerns have been echoed by other nations. Last Thursday for example, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had expressed India's concerns on how the ISIL (Daesh) continues to pose a critical threat to international peace and security and its affiliates are growing in strength.
"In our own immediate neighbourhood, ISIL-Khorasan (ISIL-K) has become more energetic and is constantly seeking to expand its footprint," he had added during his UNSC address.
(With inputs from agencies)