Meeting between Deborah Lyons, head of UN mission in Afghanistan, and Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani focused on the delivery of humanitarian assistance "without any hurdle", says a Taliban spokesperson.

Women walk along at a temporary second-hand market in Kabul's Chaman-e-Huzuri neighbourhood on September 16, 2021.
Women walk along at a temporary second-hand market in Kabul's Chaman-e-Huzuri neighbourhood on September 16, 2021. (AFP)

A UN envoy has met Afghanistan's new interior minister who for years was sought by US and is now part of a government trying to head off a humanitarian crisis.

The meeting between Deborah Lyons, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, and Sirajuddin Haqqani focused on humanitarian assistance, Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

"(Haqqani) stressed that UN personnel can conduct their work without any hurdle and deliver vital aid to the Afghan people," he said.

Afghans facing 'perhaps their most perilous hour'

Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last month with the disruption of aid, the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers and the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing "perhaps their most perilous hour".

The UN mission in Afghanistan said that Lyons stressed the "absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for Afghan people".

The Taliban repeatedly targeted the United Nations during the two-decade-long US-led invasion of Afghanistan that ended last month with the rout of the Western-backed government by the Taliban.

In one of the bloodiest incidents, the Taliban killed five UN foreign staff in an attack on a guesthouse in Kabul in 2009.

READ MORE: UN seeks safe passage for aid workers in Afghanistan

Haqqani network

More recently, gunmen attacked a UN compound in the city of Herat in July with rocket-propelled grenades killing a guard, while protesters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2011 killed seven UN staff.

The Haqqani network, a faction within the Taliban and for years based on the border with Pakistan, was held responsible for some of the worst militant attacks in Afghanistan during the Taliban insurgency. 

The United States designated the group a "terrorist" organisation in 2012.

Taliban leaders on international radar, TRT World
Taliban leaders on international radar, TRT World (TRTWorld)

Haqqani, head of the eponymous network founded by his father is one of the FBI's most wanted men with a reward of $10 million for information leading to his arrest.

US officials and members of the old US-backed Afghan government for years said the Haqqani network maintained ties with Al Qaeda. 

The Taliban have promised not to let Afghanistan be used for militant attacks on other countries.

READ MORE: Five reasons why Afghanistan shouldn’t fall off your radar

Source: Reuters