Taliban call on UN to recognize them as new rulers of Afghanistan

The Taliban’s new envoy to the United Nations has called for rapid global recognition of the new Afghan leadership even as the World Health Organization sounds the alarm of a looming health disaster in the war-torn country.

The humanitarian crisis is one of many challenges the Taliban have faced since taking control of Afghanistan last month, including renewed threats from the militant group ISIS, which recently stepped up its attacks, targeting operatives of the Islamic State. Taliban in its stronghold in the east of the country.

In an emergency measure, United Nations aid coordinator Martin Griffiths released US $ 45 million in life-saving aid for Afghanistan from the global body’s emergency fund.

The World Health Organization has said the Afghan health system is on the brink of collapse and urgent action is needed.

The statement follows a recent visit to Kabul by a WHO team led by the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who also met with Taliban and other leaders.

“The country faces an impending humanitarian catastrophe,” the WHO said, adding that thousands of health facilities lack funding for medical supplies and health worker salaries.

“Many of these facilities have now downsized or closed, forcing health providers to make tough decisions about who to save and who to let die,” the WHO said and also stressed “the need for women to maintain the ‘access to education, health care, and health personnel’.

Taliban fighters sit in the back of a van as they pull up on a hill in Kabul, Afghanistan (Felipe Diana / AP)

Griffiths warned that “allowing the Afghan health care delivery system to collapse would be disastrous.”

People across Afghanistan, he added, “would be denied access to primary health care such as emergency cesarean sections and trauma care.”

Earlier, the Taliban wrote to the United Nations to announce that Suhail Shaheen, a former peace negotiator and spokesperson for the Taliban’s political bureau, was their new representative at the UN.

They requested that Mr. Shaheen be allowed to address the United Nations General Assembly underway in New York.

“We have all the conditions necessary for the recognition of a government.

“We therefore hope that the United Nations, as a neutral global body, will recognize the current government of Afghanistan,” Shaheen said.

Afghanistan is listed as the last speaker at Monday’s ministerial meeting, and if no global recognition of the Taliban arrives by then, Afghan Ambassador Ghulam Isaczai will deliver the speech.

Mr Isaczai is currently recognized as his country’s ambassador to the UN, but the Taliban, who invaded most of Afghanistan last month as US and NATO forces were in the final stages of their chaotic withdrawal from the country, assert that they are now in charge and have the right to appoint ambassadors.

Afghan drivers and passengers stuck in a traffic jam watch Taliban fighters (Felipe Diana / AP)

Since coming to power and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, the Taliban have appointed an all-male cabinet made up mostly of hard-line supporters from their time ruled Afghanistan at the end of the 1990s, including several people on the UN sanctions list.

Among those on the UN’s so-called “blacklist” is Amir Khan Mutaqqi, the Taliban’s foreign minister and author of the letter to the UN, asking Mr. Shaheen to send to the General Assembly.

The decision rests with a UN committee that usually meets in November and will deliver a decision “in due course,” General Assembly spokeswoman Monica Grayley said.

Meanwhile, attackers hit vehicles with Taliban fighters in eastern Afghanistan, witnesses said, killing at least two fighters and three civilians.

In an attack, gunmen opened fire on a Taliban vehicle at a local gas station in the provincial capital of Jalalabad, killing two fighters, a gas station attendant and a child.

A second child was killed and two Taliban fighters were injured in a bombardment of another Taliban vehicle.

A third attack, also a shelling of a Taliban vehicle in Jalalabad, injured a person nearby, but it was not clear whether that person was a Taliban member or a civilian.

No one has claimed immediate responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks, although the so-called Islamic State group, headquartered in eastern Afghanistan, said it was behind similar attacks in Jalalabad last week which left eight people dead.

The Taliban and IS are enemies, and the attacks have raised the specter of a wider conflict between longtime rivals.

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