Taoiseach says he's 'deeply concerned' by Afghanistan crisis and calls on Taliban to 'respect human rights'

Taoiseach says he's 'deeply concerned' by Afghanistan crisis and calls on Taliban to 'respect human rights'

MICHEÁL Martin says he's "deeply concerned" by the escalating situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the nation; capital of Kabul on Sunday.

The Taoiseach urged the Taliban to respect the human rights of Afghan locals and promised that Ireland would support the international effort to provide humanitarian aid to the region and and facilitating refugees.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Mr Martin said the "pace of developments" in Afghanistan has "taken many by surprise".

"I fully endorse the call from UN secretary general António Guterres from the Taliban to exercise the utmost restraint," the Taoiseach said.

"Protecting lives, meeting humanitarian needs and respecting people’s human rights are paramount. All parties, including the Taliban, are obliged to, and must, respect international humanitarian law," he added.

Earlier today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney revealed that Ireland would be accepting around 150 Afghan refugees looking to flee the Taliban, and stressed that "a lot more" would likely be accepted in the coming weeks.

The UN security council, of which Ireland is a member, is currently meeting to discuss the situation, before a meeting of the EU's foreign affairs council on Tuesday.

"We are also providing support to the small number of Irish citizens currently in Afghanistan," Mr Martin said, adding he is in continuous contact with Mr Coveney and will "continue to monitor the situation closely over the coming days".

The Taliban, a radical Islamist militant organisation based in Afghanistan, have effectively taken over the country following the accelerated withdrawal of all western troops from the region, troops who have had a presence there since 2001.

Amid reports of rape and murder, the Taliban have quickly captured a number of major Afghan cities, and swept into the capital city of Kabul on Sunday, leading to the collapse of the government.

While the group claims the war is over, and have declared peace, thousands of citizens scrambled to Kabul airport in a desperate attempt to flee the country.

Footage emerged on Monday of hundreds of people on the airport runway, trying to clamber aboard a taxiing US military aircraft.

Tragically, it's understood that two people were crushed under the plane as it taxied, and two more fell to their deaths after trying to cling to the tyres as the aircraft took off.