Taliban says UN promises to maintain aid, claim they now control Panjshir province

Despite there being reports that the Taliban are preventing Americans abandoned by President Joe Biden from departing Afghanistan, effectively holding them hostage as they sit on the tarmac in airplanes, the United Nations has promised to maintain assistance to the country.

That’s according to Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, who said high-level Taliban officials were assured of aid while meeting with the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs Sunday in Kabul.

“The UN delegation promised continuation of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, saying he would call for further assistance to Afghanistan during the coming meeting of donor countries,” Shaheen tweeted.

“The IEA delegation thanked the UN delegation, assuring them of cooperation and provision of needed facilities,” Shaheen added.

IEA is an acronym for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General António Guterres, released a statement confirming Martin Griffiths “met with Mullah Baradar and the leadership of the Taliban in Kabul to engage with the authorities on humanitarian issues.”

“Mr. Griffiths reiterated the humanitarian community’s commitment to deliver impartial and independent humanitarian assistance and protection to millions of people in need,” the statement said. “He emphasized the critical role of women in the delivery of aid and called on all parties to ensure their rights, safety and well-being. He called for all civilians – especially women and girls and minorities – to be protected at all times.”

The U.N. said the Taliban agreed 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.”

Citing “a looming humanitarian catastrophe,” the release said Guterres convened a high-level ministerial meeting to address the matter.

“An urgent scale-up in funding is required so the lifesaving humanitarian operation can continue. The United Nations continues to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan,” the U.N. said, before concluding, “Now more than ever, the people of Afghanistan need the support and solidarity of the international community.”

Afghanistan is considered one of the poorest countries in the world — perhaps, the Taliban can hold a garage sale to unload the $85 billion of military equipment and weapons left behind by Biden. The Hill reported that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund cut off the country from financial resources soon after the Taliban took power and that the U.S. Treasury froze billions in Afghan reserve funds being held in the U.S.

Meanwhile, on the ground, the Taliban issued their own statement Monday claiming they have taken control of Panjshir province, home to the lone resistance holding out against Taliban rule, according to Fox News.

The resistance fighters had been led by the former vice president and the son of noted anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was killed just before the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the network reported.

They dispute the Taliban’s claim.

Taliban fighters are seen decked out in full U.S. military gear — courtesy of President Biden — in media reports that cite Afghan National Resistance Front’s head of foreign relations, Ali Nazary, to say the resistance still controls the main roads in the province.

In a tweet posted early Monday from an account purportedly belonging to Massoud, the message declared, “We are in Panjshir and our Resistance will continue.”

A photo of what was said to be a Pakistani jet that was “shot down by the lion cubs” was shown in another post. According to the Twitter account, the Pakistani Army is assisting the Taliban in fighting the resistance.

Tom Tillison

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