Afghan civilians pay price of conflict

Afghan civilians pay price of conflict: Amnesty International

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Amnesty International’s annual human rights review released on Thursday said that the Afghan civilians continued to pay the price of the ongoing conflict as “justice proved elusive for the victims.”

Citing UN reports, the review stated that civilian casualties remained high throughout 2019, with “July being the deadliest month on record and Afghanistan remaining the deadliest conflict in the world for children.”

The review has found that “hundreds of thousands of Afghans were internally displaced, half a million Afghans were forcibly returned from neighbouring countries, and several thousand more came back from Europe, especially Turkey.”

The report also said that journalists and human rights defenders continue to face intimidation, threats, detention and even death for their work.

“The armed conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down, it is widening, and the people who continue to pay the price are Afghan civilians. Throughout 2019, they were killed, injured, forcibly displaced and subject to other serious human rights violations by both the government and armed groups,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“In  2020, the world must shake off its indifference to this long-running conflict, and provide the people of Afghanistan with the protection they need and the justice they are owed,” the report said.

The world’s deadliest conflict for children

According to the report, in the first nine months of  2019 more “than 2,400 children were killed or injured in Afghanistan, making it the deadliest conflict in the world for children.”

Also, over the same period, “2,563 people were killed in total and 5,676 injured. The period between July and September was the deadliest on record, with July being the single deadliest month.”

“Most of the attacks were carried out by armed groups, including the Taliban and Daesh. In August, a suicide attack claimed by Daesh killed at least 63 people and wounded more than 200,” the report said.

“In the first six months of the year, pro-government and international forces were responsible for the highest number of civilian deaths,” according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

“In December, a US-operated drone strike killed five people, including a mother who had just given birth,” the report claimed.

“There continues to be a shocking disregard for human life from all sides. There are armed groups who have carried out war crimes, and pro-government forces who are responsible for the deaths of the very people they are supposed to be protecting,” said Omar Waraich.

“The Afghan authorities and the international community have a responsibility to ensure that civilians are protected and that the perpetrators of attacks on them are held accountable,” the report said.

Human rights defenders under threat

The report listed cases of human rights defenders in Afghanistan facing threats, intimidation, detention and death:

“In September, the Taliban abducted and killed Abdul Samad Amir of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. No one has been held accountable for his murder, which amounted to a war crime,” the report said.

The Amnesty report also mentioned the Logar scandal, a story that the UK’s Guardian broke internationally:

“In December, Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security, the country’s top intelligence agency, arbitrarily detained Musa Mahmudi and EhsanullahHamidi, two human rights defenders who had exposed an alleged paedophile ring operating in Logar province.”

“Faced with threats from both the state and non-state actors, Afghanistan’s human rights defenders are operating in some of the most hazardous conditions anywhere in the world. The Afghan government and the international community have long paid tribute to their bravery, but they must now recognize their achievements, offer them effective support, and ensure that they are respected and protected,” said Omar Waraich.

Forced returns

According to the report:

“In  2019, the world continued to turn its back on Afghans who had sought sanctuary from the continuing conflict. Neighbouring countries Iran and Pakistan forcibly returned half a million people last year, with more than 476,000 of them being sent back from Iran.”

In Europe:

“European countries continued to forcibly return Afghan asylum-seekers in the hundreds under various agreements made with the Afghan government, despite the grave risks that they would face upon their return to the country.”

In Turkey:

“Turkey forcibly returned at least 19,000 Afghans as of September 2019 after keeping them in poor detention conditions.”

The regional deputy director at Amnesty concludes:

“The conflict in Afghanistan makes it clear that no part of the country is safe for people to be returned to, and yet states continue to do so, in brazen violation of international law, forcing people into harm’s way to face the very dangers they were forced to flee in the first place,” said Omar Waraich.(TOLOnews)

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