The UN has urged Afghanistan’s neighbours to keep their borders open as the number of civilians fleeing the Taliban onslaught swells.
Thousands of those internally displaced have been arriving in Kabul, seeing the capital as their last safe refuge. Food shortages are dire, the World Food Programme (WFP) said. It warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The Taliban today seized the country’s second largest city Kandahar, the latest provincial capital to fall. The southern city of 600,000 people was once the Taliban’s stronghold, and is strategically important because of its international airport, agricultural and industrial output.
The insurgents also took the nearby city of Lashkar Gah, and now control about a third of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals.
The advance comes as US and other foreign troops withdraw after 20 years of military operations. More than 1,000 civilians killed in Afghanistan in the past month alone, according to the UN.
Many of those seeking safety in Kabul have been sleeping on the streets. About 72,000 children are among those fleeing to the capital in recent days, according to Save the Children.