UN compounds overtaken by Taliban: report

The Taliban have overtaken and ransacked multiple United Nations (U.N.) compounds in Afghanistan, reportedly forcing one office to provide food to fighters, Reuters reported.

"We have also been advised by the Taliban to remain in our compound 'for our safety' which equates to 'ask permission before thinking about leaving,'" the August 21 report from the from the U.N. Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) read, according to Reuters.

The UNDSS report added, "They are terrified and left alone in dealing with this new reality."

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Although the Taliban are effectively the governing power in Afghanistan, the department also said, "There is no coherent command and control with which we can liaise to discuss security requirements or problems. Neither is there a competent force that can or will provide security response in the event of a problem."

Speaking to Reuters, Liam McDowall, spokesman for the U.N.'s mission in Afghanistan, declined to comment on the documents, stating that no U.N. compounds are being occupied by the Taliban.

However, McDowall acknowledged that some U.N. buildings where staff members were not present "have been broken in to and looted, with security personnel subjected to unacceptable intimidation, but no harm."

"No U.N. staff member has reported a single house search, detention or other serious incident involving the Taliban," McDowall added, saying the agency was keeping an eye on staff fears that "the security situation may further deteriorate."

The Hill has reached out to the U.N. for further comment on the situation.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres addressed U.N. personnel in Afghanistan on Tuesday, thanking them for their work to "support the Afghan people in this time of crisis."

"I am distressed by the reports that some of you have experienced harassment and intimidation. The safety of all United Nations personnel in Afghanistan is our top priority," Guterres said. "And we are doing everything in our power, namely through the permanent engagement with all relevant actors, and will continue to do so to ensure your safety and well-being, and to find external solutions where they are needed."

"As we face this newest major challenge, we are working to ensure essential supplies and to deploy specialist teams to better support you," he added. "We remain and will continue to remain and do everything we can both for your safety, and to deliver for the people of Afghanistan who have suffered so much."