Afghan civilians ‘being slaughtered on a daily basis’

Amnesty International has raised its voice over the spate of bloody attacks in Afghanistan in the past week and said parties to the peace talks are failing to protect the lives of civilians.

The watchdog said it is Afghan civilians who continue to pay the price for the conflict.

Head of South Asia at Amnesty International Omar Waraich bluntly said: “The world must sit up and take notice. Afghan civilians are being slaughtered on a daily basis.’

“While the parties talk peace, we’ve seen a marked escalation in violence this month, with Afghan civilians as ever paying the heaviest price,” he said.

“We urge all parties to the conflict to take all measures necessary to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law. The international community must make the protection of civilians a core demand for their ongoing support of the peace process.”

The deaths this week – totaling at least 50 civilians – are the latest in a bloody month for civilians in Afghanistan, Amnesty International stated.

Last Saturday seven civilians were killed in Ghor province by a roadside bomb. The following day, a car bomb explosion outside a police station in Ghor’s capital Feroz Koh killed 16 and injured 125 others. Then, on Tuesday, roadside bombs in Jalriz district and Maidan Wardak province killed 11 people and injured four more, among other incidents.

Twelve children are also said to have been killed in Takhar province in an airstrike overnight Wednesday.

Intense fighting between the Afghan government and Taliban forces over the past two weeks in the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah is still ongoing and has so far forced at least 40,000 people to flee their homes.

In yet another tragedy this week, at least 15 Afghans were killed in a stampede at a stadium in Jalalabad in Nangarhar province while trying to apply for visas to Pakistan.

Amnesty International has now called on the Afghan and Pakistani authorities to work together to urgently establish a safe and efficient procedure for Afghan nationals wishing to travel across the border.

The watchdog said that many of those killed had been trying to secure medical visas to enter Pakistan.

“This is a heartbreaking loss of people who were simply trying to access medical care, which has become an even more precious commodity in the middle of a pandemic,” said Waraich.

“With thousands more seeking to cross the border to receive what could be life-saving treatment, it’s vital that the Afghan and Pakistani authorities work together to quickly establish an efficient and safe visa application process.”