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A Stunned World Reacts to Afghanistan Crisis

Taliban fighters pose for a photo while raising their flag at Ghazni provincial governor's house, in Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2021.
Taliban fighters pose for a photo while raising their flag at Ghazni provincial governor's house, in Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2021.

Governments worldwide were scrambling Sunday to react to the quickly changing situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Western nations to work together to address the situation in Afghanistan as Taliban insurgents take control of the capital Kabul.

"We don't want anybody bilaterally recognizing the Taliban," Johnson said in a video clip.

"We want a united position amongst all the like-minded as far as we can get one so that we do whatever we can to prevent Afghanistan lapsing back into being a breeding ground for terror,” he said.

One issue is how to handle Afghan refugees. Britain has stated its commitment to accepting refugees from Afghanistan who aided British forces over the past 20 years. But the country has largely evacuated its embassy, with the British ambassador expected to be airlifted out of Kabul on Monday, The Telegraph reported.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed Sunday that he had fled the country, claiming it was to prevent further bloodshed. The Taliban claimed their fighters had moved into Kabul, securing parts of the capital city.

Russian news agencies reported Sunday that Moscow does not yet recognize the Taliban as the new lawful authority of the country.

Like Britain, the United States has committed to housing Afghans who served as interpreters and otherwise aided U.S. military efforts in the country; however, Washington is seeking partner countries to take in at-risk Afghans while their applications are being processed.

Albania and Kosovo said Sunday they had accepted the U.S. request to accept thousands of at-risk Afghans.

The U.S. also said it’s sending additional staff to Qatar, where many Afghan refugees are being processed.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday that it “called for an immediate, comprehensive and permanent cease-fire in all Afghan territories.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s neighbors, Pakistan and Iran, have both expressed concern over the current situation.

Pakistan’s foreign minister told national television that the government does not have plans to close its embassy in Kabul; however, Islamabad has said that it cannot accept any more Afghan refugees and is continuing to work on fencing along its border.

Iran has set up hundreds of tents in three regions bordering Afghanistan, Interior Ministry official Hossein Qasemi told Iran's state news agency IRNA.

He added, however, "We expect those Afghan refugees to return home when the situation improves in Afghanistan."

While many countries are evacuating and shutting down their embassies in Kabul, the United Nations said this weekend that it was committed to keeping its agencies open amid the crisis.

Jens Laerke, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the U.N. has been in Afghanistan uninterrupted for the past 70 years.

The United Nations Security Council will meet at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 UTC) on Monday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, with a briefing by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“I’m deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan & urge the Taliban & all others to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives & ensure humanitarian needs can be met,” Guterres wrote on Twitter.