By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: UNAMA on Thursday said that the increase of violence “only heaps further hardship and misery on ordinary Afghans and undermines efforts for progress and building bridges between parties at the historic Afghanistan peace talks in Doha.”
UNAMA also said that the violence “unleashed in Helmand this week has forced thousands of Afghanistan civilians to leave their homes and initial reports suggest civilians have been killed and injured, including women and children.”
Civilians have borne the brunt of Afghanistan’s conflict, the message said, adding that “the number of civilians killed and injured —a key indicator of the intensity of violence— has so far been lower in 2020, but in recent weeks a worrying reversal seems to be emerging.”
“Civilians are routinely killed or injured in armed clashes with high casualties resulting from indirect weapons: mortars, rockets, grenades. These civilians, including many children, must be protected from harm. The only way to do that is to stop the violence,” it said.
UNAMA reiterates its call to halt violence and to focus on achieving a peaceful negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan conflict.
In the meantime, the US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson on social media said “I stand behind UNAMA’s call to protect civilians in Helmand, who should have safe passage to leave dangerous areas. It is indefensible that the Taliban continues to put civilians at risk through needless violence. Afghanistan needs peace now.”
Also, the UK embassy in Kabul condemns the Taliban offensive in Helmand where “alarming numbers of civilians” have been “displaced, injured or killed” and says the attacks “undermine the crucial peace talks” and all sides “must urgently reduce the violence and work towards a ceasefire.”
“We continue to support the ANDSF and the brave efforts made to create lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the UK Embassy said.
Clashes between government forces and the Taliban in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand, and surrounding areas have entered their seventh day.
On Wednesday, at least nine people were martyred when two Afghan National Army (ANA) MI-17 helicopters “crashed due to technical issues” in Nawa district of Helmand early on Wednesday morning, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.
Amid deteriorating security, Afghan acting Minister of Defense Assadullah Khalild on Wednesday visited Lashkargah where he pledged to improve the security situation.