UN report warns Taliban going ‘door to door’ for wanted

Threat assessment revealed as protests against Taliban takeover spread and fighters open fire on crowds.

The UN warns the Taliban is going 'door to door' to track down those who worked with the United States or NATO in the country [Stringer/EPA]

A threat assessment from the United Nations has warned the Taliban is intensifying a search for people who worked with United States and NATO forces and is going “door to door” to find them.

The confidential report – provided by the UN’s threat-assessment consultants and seen by a number of news media – says the group has “priority lists” of individuals it wants to arrest and is threatening to kill or arrest family members if the wanted do not give themselves up.

Earlier, at least two people were reported killed in Asadabad after crowds came onto the streets to mark Afghanistan’s independence day and the Taliban opened fire causing a stampede.

It was not immediately clear if the casualties were the result of the stampede or the shooting.

In Jalalabad, Taliban fighters fired at people waving the Afghan flag during independence day celebrations, injuring a man and a teenage boy.

Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis, reporting from Kabul, said: “There were some isolated protests linked to the flag in Kabul as well, with people, including women, walking down the streets past Taliban fighters waving the old flag and saying: ‘Our flag is our identity.'”

This live blog is now closed. These were Thursday’s updates:

Facebook announces new security measures for Afghanistan users

Facebook has released new security measures to protect users in Afghanistan.

Following recommendations from activists, journalists and civil society groups, the company says users can now shield their posts from people they don’t know.

Also, users of Facebook-owned Instagram in Afghanistan will receive notifications informing them of methods to protect their accounts.

“We’re working closely with our counterparts in industry, civil society and government to provide whatever support we can to help protect people,” tweeted Nathaniel Gleicher, head of Facebook’s security policy.

He added that the company has temporarily removed the ability to view a user’s friend list and search an account’s friends list in Afghanistan.

You can read Gleicher’s full thread below.

More than 18,000 evacuated from Kabul since Sunday: NATO

More than 18,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul airport since the Taliban took over the Afghanistan capital, a NATO official has told Reuters news agency.

He says crowds continued to gather outside the airport in a desperate attempt to get out of the country.

The official declined to be identified.

China can play ‘big role’ in rebuilding Afghanistan: Taliban

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told Chinese state media, China has played a constructive role in promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and is welcome to contribute to the rebuilding of the country.

“China is a big country with a huge economy and capacity – I think they can play a very big role in the rebuilding, rehabilitation, reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Shaheen told CGTN television in an interview late on Thursday.

UN report warns Taliban conducting ‘door to door’ manhunt

A threat assessment from the United Nations warns the Taliban is intensifying a search for people who worked with US and NATO forces and going “door to door” to find them.

The confidential report – provided by the UN’s threat-assessment consultants and seen by a number of news media – says the group has “priority lists” of individuals it wants to arrest and is threatening to kill or arrest family members if the wanted do not give themselves up.

People on the way to Kabul airport are also being screened with checkpoints in major cities, including the capital and Jalalabad.

“They are targeting the families of those who refuse to give themselves up, and prosecuting and punishing their families ‘according to Sharia law,'” Christian Nellemann, the executive director of the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, which wrote the report for the UN, told AFP.

“We expect both individuals previously working with NATO/US forces and their allies, alongside with their family members to be exposed to torture and executions. This will further jeopardise western intelligence services, their networks, methods and ability to counter both the Taliban, ISIS and other terrorist threats ahead,” he added.

Taliban committed ‘brutal’ massacre last month: Amnesty

Amnesty International released a report accusing the Taliban of committing a “brutal” massacre against members of the Persian-speaking Hazara ethnic group in the village of Mundarakht, Malistan district, southwest of Kabul.

Citing witnesses, the rights group said the Taliban fatally shot six men and tortured three others to death in Mundarakht early in July.

“The cold-blooded brutality of these killings is a reminder of the Taliban’s past record, and a horrifying indicator of what Taliban rule may bring,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said in a statement.

US embassy staff in Kabul warned of swift Taliban takeover: Report

US embassy officials in Kabul sent two cables to the State Department in Washington last month warning of a swift Taliban takeover amid US withdrawals, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) newspaper reported citing two sources.

The memos predicted that the Taliban would take control of the country soon after the August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of US troops.

The report says embassy staff urged speeding up the evacuations of US citizens and Afghan allies and calling out atrocities committed by the Taliban throughout the country.

One cable, sent on July 13, was signed by 23 American embassy employees, WSJ reported.

US thanks Albania for hosting Afghan refugees

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has thanked Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama for agreeing to temporarily host Afghan refugees.

Albania, a NATO member, had offered to receive Afghans fleeing their country after the Taliban takeover, with Rama calling the move a “state obligation”.

The Balkan country did not specify the number of refugees it is willing to host.

Blinken “thanked Prime Minister Rama for continuing Albania’s proud tradition of sheltering people in need,” the State Department said in a statement describing a call between the two officials.

US and NATO stress ‘close coordination’ on Afghanistan

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on the phone ahead of a virtual meeting for the alliance’s foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Afghanistan on Friday.

“The meeting will bring Allies together to discuss developments in Afghanistan and NATO’s efforts to ensure the safe and orderly evacuation of Allied personnel and our Afghan partners,” the State Department said in a statement.

Blinken and Stoltenberg stressed that “close coordination” between NATO allies is “essential” for the evacuations as well as the broader approach to Afghanistan, the statement said.

No contact with Ghani since he fled, US says

The United States has not contacted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani since he fled the country on Sunday, effectively surrendering the capital Kabul to the Taliban, said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Price said Washington is in touch with “stakeholders” in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, but not Ghani.

“My understanding is that we have not had any contact with President Ghani since he fled the country,” Price said.

US deploys additional consular officers to Kuwait and Qatar

The US has deployed additional consular officers to Qatar and Kuwait to “assist with transit efforts” from Afghanistan to the US, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Price told reporters at a news briefing that 6,000 people – American citizens and Afghan civilians – have been processed and are ready to board flights at the airport in Kabul, and 7,000 evacuees have been lifted since Saturday.

“We’re aware of congestion around the airport,” he said. “We are working closely with the Department of Defense to facilitate safe and orderly access for consular processing on the airport compound.”

Price said US citizens and permanent residents are given the first chance to board the ongoing US military flights out of Kabul “with other priority groups filling in seats from there”.

Taliban desire for recognition is only leverage point: UN chief

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Taliban’s desire for international recognition is the Security Council’s only leverage to press for inclusive government and respect for rights, particularly for women, in Afghanistan.

Guterres said he was ready to speak with the Taliban himself “when it is clear with whom should I speak, for what purpose”.

For now, UN officials in Kabul have been in close contact with the Taliban, he added.

“It’s very important for the international community to be united, for all members of the Security Council to be united, to use the only leverage that exists, which is the interests of the Taliban for legitimacy for recognition,” he said.

Guterres said a common front in dealing with the Taliban could push them to form an inclusive government, respect human rights, continue to allow evacuations from Kabul and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorism [File: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP]

Canadian armed forces personnel have landed in Afghanistan: Trudeau

Canada’s prime minister says Canadian Armed Forces assets and personnel have arrived on the ground in Afghanistan to coordinate at the tactical level with the US and other allied partners.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this will help get Canadians, Afghans and their families to safety. He said two CAF C-17s will make regular flights into Kabul to support evacuation efforts.

Russia objected to presence of US military in central Asian nations: WSJ

Russian President Vladimir Putin disapproved of any US military presence in Central Asian nations in a meeting with US leader Joe Biden in June, as per senior Russian and US officials, American outlet The Wall Street Journal reported.

The objection by Putin had allegedly complicated US hopes of setting up counterterrorism forces and drone bases in countries bordering Afghanistan, WSJ said.

Zaki Anwari: Afghan footballer fell to death from US plane

An Afghan footballer who played for the national youth team fell to his death after trying to cling to a US plane airlifting people out of Taliban-controlled Kabul, a sports federation has said.

The General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports of Afghanistan, a government institution that worked with sporting groups, confirmed the death of Zaki Anwari in the mayhem that erupted at the airport in the capital this week.

Read more here.

Some hundreds of people run alongside a US Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021 [File: UGC via AP Photo]

Erdogan says Turkey will not be ‘Europe’s migrant storage unit’

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged European countries to take responsibility for migrants coming from Afghanistan, adding Turkey had no intention of becoming “Europe’s migrant storage unit” amid turmoil in the country after the Taliban’s takeover.

Thousands had also crossed into Turkey in recent weeks, as the Taliban fighters swept through the country en route to Kabul.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said Europe needed to take responsibility for Afghans fleeing the country, adding that Ankara had taken measures along its borders with Iran – a key route for Afghan migrants into Turkey.

US troops presence at Kabul airport rises to 5,200: Pentagon

United States Air Force Major General Hank Taylor said security at the airport in Kabul is improving as the number of US troops there increased to 5,200 in the last 24 hours.

With the arrival of additional troops, US commanders at the airport have opened a third gate for processing people attempting to leave Kabul, Taylor said.

More than 2,000 passengers were evacuated on 12 departing flights of US C-17 military aircraft, bringing to 7,000 to total number of evacuees airlifted since the US began emergency evacuations after Taliban entered Kabul, Taylor said.

US soldiers stand guard as Afghan people wait to board a US military aircraft to leave Afghanistan, at the military airport in Kabul on August 19, 2021 [Shakib Rahmani/AFP]

Trucks rolling across Afghanistan border as trade resumes

Commercial traffic across Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan at the Spin Boldak/Chaman crossing picked up, traders said, as the shock of the Taliban’s lightning seizure of power began to ease and confidence returned.

Despite the Ashura religious holiday, truckloads of agricultural produce from Kandahar province were driven across the border, a sign that trade was beginning to return to normal.

“Today, many trucks loaded with fresh fruit (from Afghanistan), including famous ‘Sunder-Khani’ grapes, were cleared at Customs House Chaman,” a senior Custom Officer told the Reuters news agency via WhatsApp.

He said movement was strong in both directions, with long-bodied trucks loaded with export and Afghan transit goods also going from Pakistan to Afghanistan’s Spin Boldak and the nearby provincial capital of Kandahar.

Trucks loaded with supplies wait to cross into Afghanistan at the Friendship Gate crossing point, in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan August 19, 2021 [Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters]

OPINION: What’s next for the US, the Taliban and Afghanistan?

Although the war and the occupation have ended and the dust is finally settling in Afghanistan, there is little clarity as to what the future holds for the Afghan nation or for the main protagonists, the United States and the Taliban.

Judging by their initial official statements, both sides seem to be curbing their ambitions, lowering their expectations and moderating their positions after the 20-year war that came after another 20-year conflict, left Afghanistan in a disastrous limbo.

Read more here.

Taliban spokesman says China can contribute to Afghanistan’s development – state media

Afghan Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said China could contribute to the development of Afghanistan in the future, Chinese state media reported.

Suhail Shaheen made the remark in an interview with China’s state CGTN television, it said.

The Take: Watching the Taliban take over, one woman’s story

On August 15, the Taliban took over the Afghan capital of Kabul, entered the presidential palace, and declared an end to the 20-year war.

But before that declaration, as the armed group rapidly advanced throughout the country, we spoke with Pashtana Durrani.

She’s an Afghan activist who was witnessing it all first-hand. In this episode of The Take, we hear her story.

Listen here.

UN, aid groups appeal for Afghanistan funding

The heads of UN agencies and international aid groups have made an appeal for more humanitarian funding for Afghanistan as they pledged to stay and deliver, warning that they were at least $800 million short of what was needed.

“We will stay in Afghanistan and we will deliver,” the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), made up of the heads of at least 18 UN agencies and international aid groups, said in a statement.

“This is not the time to abandon the Afghan people.”

At the start of the year, half of Afghanistan’s population – more than 18 million people – needed help, they said. A UN appeal for $1.3 billion to reach 16 million people this year with humanitarian aid is only 37 percent funded.

“Those needs have risen sharply because of conflict, drought, and COVID-19,” they said.

Some 1,500 Afghan refugees in Uzbekistan: embassy

About 1,500 Afghans fleeing the Taliban have crossed into neighbouring Uzbekistan where some are currently living in tents near the border, an Afghan embassy staffer in the Central Asian country told AFP news agency.

The embassy representative could not provide details of where the refugees were being housed and how they reached the country, citing security concerns.

He said the refugees are currently “in the Surkhandarya region near the (border) city of Termez and in Termez itself.”

Protests is Greece to push for more evacuations

Hundreds of people, many Afghan migrants, gathered in the Greece capital Athens to push the government to do more for Afghans including those seeking asylum.

“The key demand by the protesters … many of them asylum seekers, is for the government to speed up the process of approval of Afghan asylum applications, but also to facilitate the exit, and the transfer of asylum applicants who are still in Afghanistan, and who wish to come to Europe,” Al Jazeera’s correspondent John Psaropoulos reported from Athens.

“They’re extremely worried about their relatives back home,” he added.


UNESCO urges Afghan cultural protection

The UN cultural agency called for the protection of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage and to ensure a safe environment for artists, days after the Taliban swept to power in Kabul.

Afghanistan is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Bamiyan Valley, where the Taliban blew up two giant Buddha statues before the Islamist group was removed from power in 2001.

“Amid the rapidly unfolding events, and 20 years after the deliberate destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, a World Heritage site, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay calls for the preservation of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage,” UNESCO said in a statement on Thursday.

Taliban face ‘existential’ choice on international recognition: Biden

The Taliban face an “existential” choice about how they are seen by the rest of the world after their sweeping military victory in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden said.

“I think they’re going through sort of an existential crisis about do they want to be recognised by the international community as being a legitimate government,” Biden told ABC News.

The US president who defended the chaotic exit of the final US troops, foreigners and Afghan allies after the Taliban victory, said he was “not counting” on the Taliban to shift their priorities.

President Joe Biden speaks about Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House, Monday, August 16, 2021, in Washington [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

Biden: ‘Military force’ not the way to protect women’s rights

US President Joe Biden says in an interview that war is not the answer to growing fears for the human rights of women in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

“The idea that we’re able to deal with the rights of women around the world by military force is not rational,” Biden said in the ABC News interview, his first since the Taliban victory triggered a frantic final US withdrawal.

“There are a lot of places where women are being subjugated,” he said. “The way to deal with that is putting economic, diplomatic and international pressure on them to change their behaviour.”

Afghanistan war unpopular amid chaotic pullout: Poll

A significant majority of Americans doubt that the war in Afghanistan was worthwhile, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Roughly two-thirds said they did not think the US’s longest war was worth fighting, the poll shows. It was conducted August 12-16.

Biden: Taliban must decide if it wants international recognition

The Taliban must decide whether it wants to be recognised by the international community, US President Joe Biden has said in an ABC interview, adding that he did not think the group had changed its fundamental beliefs.

Taliban fighters pose for a photograph in Kabul [Rahmat Gul/AP]

Taliban fight trust deficit with PR blitz

Smiling and waving at journalists, posing for selfies in the streets, even sitting down for a TV interview with a female journalist, the Taliban appear to have launched a public relations blitz, telling Afghans – and the world – that life under their rule will be different this time.

But Taliban 2.0 is a hard sell.

Read more here.

Afghanistan: A subdued Ashura under Taliban rule

For the last 20 years, the Kartei Sakhi shrine in west Kabul has been one of the main gathering places for the annual Ashura commemorations in the city.

Every year, thousands of men, women and children in black robes and green headbands would come to this shrine to honour what they consider the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Read more here.

This year Ashura falls on the fifth day of Taliban rule in Afghanistan [Ali M Latifi/Al Jazeera]

Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbours panic, reject refugees

Nothing seems to have changed in recent weeks in Tashkent, the bustling capital of ex-Soviet Uzbekistan that sits about 750km (466 miles) north of Kabul.

Many Uzbeks worry about the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating heatwaves and rising prices – but not about the unexpected, stunning speed of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Read more here.

Border guards are seen at the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border in Ayritom [Abror Kurbonmuratov/Reuters]

Russia: Anti-Taliban resistance ‘concentrated’ in Panjshir Valley

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that a Taliban resistance is forming in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley led by vice president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, the son of a famed anti-Taliban fighter.

“The Taliban doesn’t control the whole territory of Afghanistan, there are reports of the situation in the Panjshir Valley where the resistance of Afghanistan’s vice president Mr Saleh and Ahmad Massoud is concentrated,” Lavrov told reporters at a news conference in Moscow.

Afghan steel plants concerned of scrap smuggling

Afghanistan’s steel factories’ association is concerned scrap metal smuggling abroad has increased and exhausted supplies, putting thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs.

Abdul Nasir Reshtia, chief executive of the association says that with borders reopening, Afghanistan’s scrap metal is being smuggled once again to neighbouring countries.

Reshtia warns that in next 10 days, the smuggling will push factories to close as they cannot operate without scrap metal.

Taliban fighters kill at least two in Asadabad

At least two people have been killed after Taliban fighters opened fire at a crowd celebrating independence day in Asadabad, witnesses told Al Jazeera. At least eight people were wounded in the violence.

The Taliban fired on the crowd after someone stabbed a Taliban fighter with a knife, according to witnesses and videos on social media.

Afghans celebrate their 102nd independence day with the national flag in Kabul [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

In Jalalabad, Taliban fighters fired at people waving the Afghan national flag, injuring a man and a teenage boy who were transported by rickshaw to nearby hospitals.

In Khost, Taliban fighters are enforcing a curfew to stop protests against them, while people have also come out in the streets of Kabul, defending the republic’s flag.

Images of women vandalised in Kabul


A Taliban fighter walks past a beauty salon with images of women sprayed over in Shahr-e-Naw, Kabul [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]


A beauty salon’s facade with pictures of women defaced with spray paint in Shahr-e-Naw, Kabul [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Infographic: Afghanistan’s flags over the years

The Taliban intends to replace the Afghan flag with their white banner bearing the Shahada: “La ilah ila Allah, Mohammad rasoul Allah” (There is no god but God and Muhammad is God’s messenger) after retaking the country on Sunday.

This is not the first time Afghanistan’s flag has changed.

Here is the story of how it has evolved over the past 100 years.

Afghanistan’s situation makes West look weak: UK

What happened in Afghanistan after a 20-year war led by the US means the West’s resolve is now seen as weak by adversaries like Russia, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says.

“We have a world order now, where resolve is perceived by our adversaries as weak, the West’s resolve,” Wallace told BBC TV.

“That is something we should all worry about: if the West is seen not to have resolve, and it fractures, then our adversaries like Russia find that encouraging,” Wallace told LBC radio.

Taliban marks Afghan independence

The Taliban celebrated Afghanistan’s independence day, commemorating the 1919 treaty that ended British rule, by declaring it had beaten “the arrogant of power of the world”, the US.

“Today, we are celebrating the anniversary of independence from Britain,” the Taliban said.

“We at the same time, as a result of our jihadi resistance, forced another arrogant of power of the world, the United States, to fail and retreat from our holy territory of Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan events ‘a catastrophe and a nightmare’: Borrell

The EU’s foreign policy chief branded developments in Afghanistan “a catastrophe and a nightmare” and said there had been a failure of intelligence to anticipate the Taliban’s return to power there.

Josep Borrell told the European Parliament that the first group of 106 EU staff in Afghanistan had been airlifted from the country and arrived in Madrid, Spain.

He also said about 400 Afghans who worked with the EU, and their family members, had been evacuated to Europe but there were 300 more still trying to make it to Kabul airport.

Afghan resistance leader asks for help in anti-Taliban fight

Ahmad Massoud, leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, is urging people to join the fight against the Taliban in an op-ed in the Washington Post newspaper.

He says his fighters are “prepared to once again take on the Taliban” in Panjshir but that they “need more weapons, more ammunition and more supplies”.

“America and its democratic allies do not just have the fight against terrorism in common with Afghans. We now have a long history made up of shared ideals and struggles. There is still much that you can do to aid the cause of freedom. You are our only remaining hope.”

Taliban fighters stand along a road in Kabul [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

UN should step up its diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan: Brahimi

Veteran UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi told Al Jazeera the UN should step up its diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan.

“The UN should be there, definitely … It is time for diplomacy … you know, the Taliban are a strong player now on the ground. If they want to, they can tomorrow declare a government and … they’ll be all right – for one week, for two weeks, for a month, for a year,” Brahimi added.

“But if you don’t have a real inclusive government, then … the terrible saga of Afghanistan, for 40 years – 50 years actually – will resume or will continue.”

Taliban urge people to leave Kabul airport after 12 killed

According to Taliban and NATO officials, a total of 12 people have been killed in and around Kabul airport since the Taliban seized the city on Sunday, triggering a rush of fearful people trying to leave.

The deaths were caused either by gunshots or in stampedes, the Taliban official said, urging people still crowded at the airport gates to go home if they did not have the right paperwork to travel.

“We don’t want to hurt anyone at the airport,” said the Taliban official, who declined to be identified.

Kabul evacuees land in Germany as airlift gathers pace

Two planes have landed at Frankfurt Airport with about 500 evacuees from Kabul as the pace of German evacuations increases after a chaotic start. The two planes were chartered from Lufthansa and Uzbekistan Airways.

After landing, passengers spoke of chaos at Kabul airport. Mahmud Sadjadi said he saw dead people and heard shooting, describing the situation as “helplessness, hopelessness. Nothing but chaos.”

Afghans rush to Kabul International Airport to flee [Aykut Karadag/Anadolu Agency]

Another passenger, who did not want to be named, said: “The situation is difficult and not easy to get under control … But the people in Afghanistan need help. The world must help.”

Italy working to hold extraordinary G20 summit

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi is organising a Group of 20 summit on the situation in Afghanistan, according to two national newspapers.

Italy holds the rotating G20 presidency this year and the possible meeting is expected earlier than the scheduled summit in Rome in October, daily la Repubblica reported.

Afghans gather outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport to flee the country [Stringer/EPA]

Hello, this is Tamila Varshalomidze, taking over the live updates from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

Afghan vice president ‘salutes’ anti-Taliban protesters

Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan’s first vice president, feels “respect, support and appreciation” for Afghans who protest against the Taliban.

“Salute those who carry the national flag and thus stand for dignity of the nation and the country,” he said in a tweet.

US Congress to launch investigations on Afghanistan

Democratic-led committees in the US Senate and House of Representatives are pledging to press the Biden administration for not foreseeing how quickly the Taliban would take back power.

Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said legislators will investigate what he described as the “Biden administration’s flawed execution of the US withdrawal”.

Congressman Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he has invited Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to testify. A hearing could take place as soon as next week.

Taliban intensify search for Afghans who worked with US, NATO forces – NYT

A secret UN document claims the Taliban is intensifying a search for people it believes worked with US and NATO forces, including among the crowds at Kabul’s airport, the New York Times newspaper reported.

The document – seen by NYT – from a UN threat assessment adviser said there were multiple reports the Taliban had a list of people it wanted to question and punish.

It also said the Taliban had been going door to door and “arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves”.

UN moving some staff out of Afghanistan

The UN is relocating 100 employees from Afghanistan to Almaty, Kazakhstan, according to a spokesman.

“This is a temporary measure intended to enable the UN to keep delivering assistance to the people of Afghanistan with the minimum of disruption while, at the same time, reducing risk to UN personnel,” said Stephane Dujarric.

He did not specify whether the staff being relocated were international or Afghan workers or both.

FAA says domestic airlines can run evacuation, relief flights out of Kabul

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says domestic air carriers and civilian pilots can now fly into Kabul for evacuation or relief flights.

But all such flights “must have permission” from the Department of Defense, it said in a statement.

Blinken speaks to counterparts in UK, Italy and Saudi Arabia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he discussed evacuations from Afghanistan in calls with his counterparts from the UK and Italy.

In a series of tweets, Blinken also said he spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan “about ways the international community can support the Afghan people”.

He also reiterated a call for the protection of women and girls in Afghanistan.

NYT staff in Afghanistan ‘make it to safety’

The New York Times said all of its staff and their families in Afghanistan have “made it to safety”.

Editor Michael Slackman said the paper helped evacuate 65 families – 128 men, women, and children.

Ex-Australian interpreter ‘shot in the leg by Taliban’ – report

A former interpreter for the Australian army has reportedly been shot in the leg by a Taliban fighter as he tried to get on a military evacuation flight out of Kabul, according to Australian broadcaster SBS.

The man said in a voice message that he had been waiting in line to reach the airport gate when a Taliban fighter shot him in the leg.

Photos obtained by SBS News show the man in hospital with a wounded leg.

UN warns of hunger in Afghanistan

Mary Ellen McGroarty, head of the UN food agency in Afghanistan, said a humanitarian crisis is unfolding as 14 million people face severe hunger after the Taliban takeover.

The WFP country director told reporters in a video briefing that the conflict, the nation’s second severe drought in three years, and the social and economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed an already dire situation into a “catastrophe”.

More than 40 percent of crops have been lost, she said, while hundreds of thousands of people were displaced by the Taliban advance.

CPJ calls on Taliban to stop attacking journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on the Taliban to stop attacking journalists and searching their homes after being informed of at least four incidents since the group took power.

The CPJ says the media must be allowed to “operate freely and without fear of violence or reprisal”.

It said it had received reports of at least four journalists whose homes were searched since the Taliban takeover, and was investigating reports that at least two reporters in Jalalabad had been beaten by the Taliban.

IMF blocks Afghanistan access to reserves citing ‘lack of clarity’

The International Monetary Fund has suspended Afghanistan’s access to IMF resources, including about $440m in new monetary reserves.

The announcement follows pressure from the US Treasury, which holds a controlling share in the Fund, to ensure that Afghanistan’s share of a Special Drawing Rights (SDR) reserves allocation scheduled for Monday does not fall into the Taliban’s hands.

“There is currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan, as a consequence of which the country cannot access SDRs or other IMF resources,” an IMF spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

For key developments from yesterday, August 18, go here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies