Editorial

Warring factions should prioritize protection of civilians

With the sharp rise in Taliban activities in recent months, the militant group and other militants have been increasingly targeting innocent civilians. This is worrisome sign for safety and security of civilians in Afghanistan as the ongoing insurgency is far from being resolved in the near future.
At least 484 civilians have suffered casualties, 184 martyred and 300 others wounded in 18 provinces of the country in March, the Civilian Protection Advocacy Group (CPAG) said on Tuesday.
The group said 54 children and 27 women were among the victims. On March 26, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani ordered Afghan and international forces during an extraordinary security meeting to be careful about civilian lives in their operations. He said civilian casualties were not acceptable. Despite the presidential recommendation, civilians suffered casualties during airstrikes and night raids, it added.
According to CPAG, civilian casualties increased three times in March compared to February. About 165 civilians had suffered casualties in February. The group’s findings show most of the casualties occurred in Kabul, where 24 civilians were killed, and 120 others wounded as a result of different incidents.
War and violence have inflicted heavy casualties upon Afghan nation and left huge destruction behind. People have been suffering from violence for many decades, but the violence is less likely to come to an end. The stories of violence and killings continue unabated. Democratic and human rights discourse could not bring an end to deadly wars. 
It is the time that Taliban and other militants shun violence and put an end to violence and bloodshed so as to protect the rights of all individuals and nations. It is aptly said in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind”. On the other hand, observing the IHL and respecting the rights and dignity of all individuals will lead to peace and prosperity. The warring factions need to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood and promote peace through exercising tolerance and campaigning against all kinds of radicalism.
The CPAG called on the United Nations, Afghanistan  Independent Human Rights Commission, civil society and people to take concrete steps for preventing civilian casualties. The group also asked international forces, Taliban and other militant groups to protect civilian lives during the conflict.
Meanwhile the security organs need to plan for a long-term strategy for protecting civilians. The United Nations can influence the factions of the war to respect civilian safety and security. The international organizations working for human rights, including the UN agency should ask militants not to target the civilians and shouldn’t use civilian houses as their shelters.
The anti-insurgency campaign should be combined with direct or inidirect talks with the militant groups for providing safety civilians by all sides of the war.

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