UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sent Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths to Kabul for talks with the Taliban leadership, a top official of the world body confirmed. "At the request of the Secretary-General, Martin Griffiths is currently in Kabul. During his visit today (Sunday), Griffiths met with Mullah Baradar and the leadership of the Taliban in Kabul to engage with the authorities on humanitarian issues," Xinhua news agency quoted Stephane Dujarric, Guterres' spokesman, as saying in a statement.In this meeting, Griffiths reiterated the humanitarian community's commitment to delivering impartial and independent humanitarian assistance and protection to millions of people in need, said the statement.Griffiths emphasised the critical role of women in the delivery of aid and called on all parties to ensure their rights, safety and well-being, according to the statement.He called for all civilians, especially women and girls and minorities, to be protected at all times and expressed his solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, it addd.
The authorities pledged that the safety and security of humanitarian staff, and humanitarian access to people in need, will be guaranteed and that humanitarian workers, both men and women, will be guaranteed freedom of movement.The authorities pledged to cooperate with the humanitarian community to ensure assistance is delivered to the people of Afghanistan, said the statement.Further meetings are expected in the coming days, it said.Griffiths will also meet and convey his thanks on behalf of the UN to representatives of humanitarian organisations, who remain operational in the country and have assisted 8 million people this year, said the statement.Presently in Afghanistan, half of the population, 18 million people, need humanitarian assistance to survive.A third do not know where their next meal is coming from. More than half of all children under 5 are at risk of acute malnutrition.A severe drought, the second in four years, will further contribute to hunger in the months ahead.Now more than ever, the people of Afghanistan need the support and solidarity of the international community, the statement added.