From Xinhua News Agency, Aug. 13, 2021. Complete text:
Beijing – Forced to leave his home in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz a couple of days ago after Taliban fighters captured it, an aged man lives in a dusty open park in the northern edge of Kabul city.
The homeless man, who declined to be identified, attributed his miseries to the irresponsible troop withdrawal by the US that has added to the suffering of ordinary Afghans. Furious and feeling lost, he cannot help but ask: Why did the US leave the country without bringing about peace and stability here? Why did it invade Afghanistan in the first place?
Miseries of the displaced.
The displaced man is head of an eight-member family. His life has been turned upside down overnight as fighting and violence have further intensified in Afghanistan.
“I had everything in Kunduz. I had a prosperous and happy life in Kunduz. But today, here, I have nothing. I don’t even have a tent to live in and spend my day and night,” he said.
The man harshly denounced the US for leaving behind a mess in his country. “Under the pretext of diminishing terrorists, bringing about peace, developing Afghanistan, empowering women in society and ensuring human rights, the US invaded Afghanistan,” he said. “But all in vain.”
“Terrorists are active, fighting continues, human rights are trampled on, people are killed brutally every day, and women’s rights was a joke,” he said.
What he has experienced is a microcosm of the numerous displaced people in the war-torn country. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced on Wednesday [Aug. 11] that conflict in different parts of Afghanistan in the last week has driven tens of thousands of people from their homes.
The office said they are part of the nearly 390,000 people displaced by hostilities this year, with a massive spike since May. Many of the displaced fled to Kabul and other large cities.
More than 5,800 internally displaced persons arriving in Kabul between July 1 and Aug. 5 need food, household items, water and sanitation support and other assistance, the UN said.
Samihullah, another displaced man, told Xinhua he left his hometown in Yangi Qala of Takhar province three days ago to escape the war, but he and his family have not received any humanitarian assistance so far. Hundreds of families fled their homes in his neighborhood, he said.
Dangerous turning points.
A more complex and challenging humanitarian catastrophe is shaping up in Afghanistan after the US started hastily withdrawing its troops from the country, leading to an immediate conflict escalation and a rapid deterioration of security.
Relief workers in Afghanistan on Thursday were determining the needs of 18.4 million people out of a population of close to 40 million as fighting spreads across the country.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, 4,042 weapon-wounded patients have been treated at its 15 supported health facilities across Afghanistan since the beginning of August.
The situation is worsening. Homes, hospitals, shops, bridges and other infrastructure are being destroyed amid heavy clashes between the Taliban and government forces. As a result of the conflict in the past month, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed. The UN also confirmed Monday that over 27 children were killed in three days.
Afghanistan is at a dangerous turning point as the war has entered a new phase, Deborah Lyons, UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, commented earlier this month.
“Ahead lies either a genuine peace negotiation or a tragically intertwined set of crises: an increasingly brutal conflict combined with an acute humanitarian situation and multiplying human rights abuses,” she told the UN Security Council.
Mess left behind.
Currently, many Afghan cities and about half the country’s 34 provinces in recent weeks have seen heavy battles and street fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants. The Taliban claims to have taken control of at least nine provincial capitals so far.
Earlier this month, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani blamed the speedy withdrawal of US-led troops for the worsening violence in his country. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday also warned that the irresponsible withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan may benefit the militants and lead to unrest in the country.
As multiple cities have fallen to the Taliban, US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Afghan troops must defend the country themselves.
Biden had ordered the US military to end its mission in Afghanistan by Aug. 31, days ahead of his original Sept. 11 deadline. The US Central Command said over 95% of the drawdown had been completed.
Washington’s recent move is further reducing its civilian footprint in Kabul. It said on Thursday that it will deploy thousands of troops to Kabul airport to support its embassy staff drawdown. The US Embassy in Kabul also urged Americans to leave Afghanistan immediately.
At the invitation of Qatar, special envoys and representatives from China, Russia, Pakistan, the US and the United Nations, as well as other regional countries and international organizations, have gathered in Doha since Aug. 10 to hold talks over the situation in Afghanistan.
On Thursday night, representatives issued a joint statement, calling on the Afghan warring parties to expedite the peace process, and reach a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire as quickly as possible.
The participants said they would not recognize any government in Afghanistan that is forcibly imposed and are much concerned about the ongoing violence, large numbers of civilian casualties, allegations of human rights violations, and destruction of infrastructure.
They pledged to provide assistance to the reconstruction process once a viable political settlement is reached between the two sides.
“What we are doing around the clock is seeking to find a way out of this,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.