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Michelle Bachelet. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

A top United Nations official said Monday that the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan has entered a "new and perilous phase" and condemned the group for breaking public promises on human rights, AP reports.

What's happening: The comments, made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, come as the UN hosts a meeting with donors looking to raise funds for Afghans in need, with millions facing severe hunger following the Taliban's takeover.

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres is leading the effort to raise $606 million for the rest of 2021 in a "flash appeal" to provide assistance to around 11 million people.
  • "The conference will put to the test some Western governments and other big traditional U.N. donors who want to help everyday Afghans without handing a public relations victory or cash to the Taliban," AP notes.

Details: The UN said that "initial indications already reveal a severe deterioration of the situation for vulnerable people," adding that it is critical to provide humanitarian assistance because "[f]ailure to do so risks human and humanitarian catastrophe for the more than 37 million people who currently live on less than $2 a day."

  • Bachelet said her office has received credible allegations of reprisal killings of former Afghan security forces.

What she's saying: "Facing deepening humanitarian and economic crisis, the country has entered a new and perilous phase, with many Afghans profoundly concerned for their human rights, particularly women, ethnic and religious communities," Bachelet said in a statement.

  • Bachelet said that while the Taliban released statements "purporting to grant amnesty to former security personnel and civil servants; prohibiting house-to-house searches; and assuring women’s rights under Islamic law," she has received information that proved otherwise.
  • "I am also profoundly alarmed by the escalating humanitarian crisis. I call on all States to assist the United Nations and other actors with the provision of humanitarian assistance to the country, while remaining mindful that the provision of such assistance must be rooted in the respect and protection of human rights."

What to watch: The meeting is scheduled to end with a news conference and closing remarks around noon eastern time.

Go deeper

Oct 25, 2021 - World

Amnesty International to close Hong Kong offices due to national security law

The Amnesty International logo is seen in their office in Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images

Amnesty International said Monday it will close its two Hong Kong offices by the end of the year.

Driving the news: The organization cited Beijing's national security law, which has made it harder for human rights groups to operate in Hong Kong.

Updated 32 mins ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

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Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.