War-displaced Arzo dwellers seek help to return homes

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According to residents of Arzo, at least 65 civilians have so far been killed and 105 others wounded during the conflict in the area that broke out more than five months back.


GHAZNI: Sayedullah, a resident of the Arzo area in the capital of southern Ghazni province, lost his three fabrics and tailoring shops following months of relentless clashes between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban. 


Looking regretfully at his ruined shops in Arzo Bazaar, he said that he used to earn 1,000 Afghanis every day on average from his business.


“Currently, all my properties and belongings have been looted and my shops demolished as the Taliban did not allow anyone to shift anything from the area.”


“Our life is full of problems. Besides destroying my household economy, the conflict has also killed children and loved ones of many other people,” he said.


Sayedullah is not alone having been affected by the conflict.


Mohammad Haris, another resident of the area, said that he returned to his residence after four months in order to take away his belongings but witnessed that it was turned into a security post by commando forces and there was nothing left for him to extract.


Arzo is located only six kilometers south of Ghazni city where the conflict between the Taliban and Afghan forces intensified around five months ago when security forces established new posts on the Ghazni-Paktika highway that passes through the area.


Farming and livestock are the sole income sources of the local people. Mustard oil is the specialty product of the area which has a distinct quality and is also exported to Ghazni city, districts and nearby provinces of Paktia and Paktika. However, the conflict brought all such businesses in the area to a halt.


According to residents of Arzo, at least 65 civilians have so far been killed and 105 others wounded during the conflict in the area that broke out more than five months back.


OrbandNews could not collect exact figures of civilian losses in the area as conflict still threatened the public life there. The death toll and civilian casualties could be much higher as the war wasn’t limited to the Arzo area and has spilled over to surrounding parts as well.


Local officials also did not provide information about Afghan forces’ casualties in the battle but humanitarian organizations who transfer the corpses of security forces and the Taliban from the battlefields say that they shifted 20 bodies belonging to Afghan troops to the provincial capital and five Taliban fighters’ corpses to the Taliban-controlled area.


Considering the numerous civilian casualties and unreported incidents, the fatalities of Afghan forces and the Taliban are also much higher but the conflict sides usually collect their bodies on their own from the battlegrounds, making it harder for media outlets to trace exact figures.


Meanwhile, the Ghazni-Paktika highway has been rendered shut since the fighting has intensified and drivers of the highway complain that the Taliban insurgents, who have planted bombs on conventional roads, divert them onto unpaved routes. 


The drivers currently use non-asphalted routes passing through the Deh Yak district and Mangor area of Ghazni province.


The families displaced by the conflict mostly live in Ghazni city, some of whom (with up to 40 members) share a single home due to a shortage of residential space.


These war-devastated families say that they just evacuated themselves and were not allowed to take their possessions with them. “Afghan forces and the Taliban barred us from entering the war zone,” they said.


According to them, despite the conflict, they dared to continue living in their homes. However, the Taliban forced them to leave their solar water pumps continually running, which drained their underground water, and thus, they had no other choice but to shift their homes somewhere else.


They asked the government to withdraw security posts from their area and let them return to their homes. “Aid organizations have several times surveyed our families but no one has so far assisted us,” they lamented.


Around 2,000 families reside in the Arzo area and 800 of them have so far been dislocated due to conflicts.