Protection of civilians in conflict zones a must

The ongoing War and violence have inflicted heavy casualties upon Afghan nation and left indescribable destruction behind. People have been suffering from violence for decades, and the militants yet to stop their bloodshed campaign against civilians.

Afghans suffered severely in the wake of political upheavals throughout the history and paid heavy sacrifices for democratic principles. Political symptoms and civil unrest took their toll on people’s life, freedoms, and dignity. 

The pain and anguish of Afghan people within the last four decades of conflict and civil unrest is indescribable. The natural and inherent rights and freedoms of individuals were violated flagrantly. Although relative freedoms and moderate approaches of kings and political leaders generated a gleam of hope for Afghans for a peaceful and prosperous life, the pain continues unabated as peace remains elusive. 

A new figure by the Ministry of Public Health showed that conflict-related violence in the past 12 months has left more than 3,300 civilians dead and over 14,600 others wounded. The time period measured is from September 16, 2018, to September 10, 2019.

The report does not make claims about which military or group is to blame, although it measures those killed in suicide attacks, which is 460 killed, and 1,200 wounded. 

And while insurgent groups are responsible for a high number of civilian casualties, those monitoring the human cost of the war say that all sides in the fighting are responsible.

According to this latest report of the Ministry of Public Health, Baghlan, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Helmand, and Kunar are the provinces with highest civilians’ casualties and Bamyan, Daikondi, Paktia and Balkh have the lowest civilian casualties.

Militant, mainly the Taliban, carry out indiscriminate attacks against Afghan nation and the sacrifices made by Afghans for a peaceful community has not yet borne the desired result. Religious fundamentalists still find democratic principles against their radical ideology and, ironically, shed the blood of people to sell their harsh mindset and trade on religious issues. 

Targeting civilians is a war crime and has no rational or religious justification. Such acts simply unfold the brutality and irrationality of the militant fighters. It further indicates that those militant groups, which claim to fight for religion, lack the very basic knowledge of religion.

Meanwhile, the surge in militancy shows the Taliban are still playing a foul game as they, on the one hand, negotiate for peace and, on the other hand, intensify their attacks. The group has travelled to many regional countries in recent days, aiming to seek ways for ending the ongoing war, but contrary to their move, the group fighters have increased their attacks on civilians and even have hidden themselves in local people’s houses.

To prevent increasing trend of civilian casualties, the security organs and the international community should consider a long-term strategy for protecting civilians. The US and other agencies, including UN have had unsuccessful efforts in the past to persuade the Taliban for protecting the civilians. But the US and its allies still can influence the parties of the war to respect civilian safety and security.

The Afghan government should ask the UN and other parties to negotiate with the Taliban over the issue. The anti-insurgency campaign should be combined with direct or non-direct talks with the militant groups for providing protection to civilians by all sides of the war.

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