Living under open sky, thousands of Kandahar IDPs need aid

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KANDAHAR: Inhabitants of Zhari and Panjwayee districts in southern Kandahar province have complained that nonstop violence in their regions have compelled them to leave their homes and live under tents and endure imposed poverty.

Intense conflicts between the Taliban and Afghan forces have erupted in Kandahar’s two districts for the last three weeks. However, security officials say their operations against the Taliban insurgent group were advancing slowly in order to prevent civilian casualties.

Hundreds of families have been forced by the conflicts in Zhari, Panjwayee, Arghandab, Maiwand and some other districts to leave their homes and live in the open and tents. Many of these families have left behind all their belongings, with their farms and orchards being unharvested.

Najib is one of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who said they weren’t able to collect and harvest their pomegranate gardens as they scrambled to rescue their children and women from the combat area.

“Police informed us that we should not leave our homes during the fight, so we got out of homes with huge problems as bullets were raining. Life has become very hard; no side cares about us,” he said.

He accused all the warring sides of oppressing the public by using civilians as human shelters.

Haji Khan, another displaced person, grumbled about the circumstances they were going through, urging the sides to show mercy on civilians and heed attention to their lives.

“They should not force us to poverty and migration; our life is in great troubles and we ask them to be kind to us poor people,” he added.

Masum Khan, police chief for Zhari district, said that an operation against the Taliban was still ongoing in the district, but they were making little progress as the security forces were being protective to avoid harming civilians, who usually get caught in cross-fire between the sides.

He said that they were exercising restraint and cautiousness during operations in order to avoid civilian damages.

Abdul Nafi Pashton, commander of the 04 Military Unit, said that they were ready to recapture all areas from the Taliban militants. Two key areas have already been cleaned from the presence of the insurgents, he said.

“We have weapons and resources for fighting; our morale is strong. We are victorious due to our love for the country and are committed to our responsibilities. We care about the lives of people and clean landmines,” he said.

He added that if the Taliban stopped using people as shelter and didn’t plant bombs in public places, the Afghan forces would be able to recapture all areas from the rebels within two weeks.

On the other hand, the Taliban claim that they have captured large areas from Afghan forces and inflicted heavy casualties on the government side.

Local officials admit more than five civilians had suffered casualties during the conflicts, which also caused huge losses worth millions of Afghanis to local people.

This comes as Kandahar Refugees and Repatriation Department last week said that more than 7,000 families had been displaced from Maiwand, Zheri, Arghandab, Shah Walikot and Panjwayee districts due to conflicts, but the department was only able to provide aid to 800 of them.