While the war continues to rage on in Lashkargah, the capital of southern Helmand province, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and the US Embassy in Kabul have called on the Taliban to swiftly end their attacks on Lashkargah.
UNAMA 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.
“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,” tweeted Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson.
Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan has also raised his grave concerns about the fresh wave of violence in Afghanistan, particularly the attack in Helmand, saying continuation of these attacks will impact the Doha peace process.
Meanwhile, president Ashraf Ghani in Kabul said that the war in Helmand has displaced thousands of families.
“Thousands of people have been displaced in Helmand, if we didn’t have the sacrifices of (Afghan pilots and security forces), there could be millions of people displaced,” said Ghani while participating in the prayer ceremony of Afghan pilots killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand on Tuesday.
At least nine people were killed 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.
“Violence is affecting the lives of the people, we expect the violence to decline to move the peace process forward,” said Najia Anwari, a spokeswoman for the State Ministry on Peace Affairs.
“The war in Helmand is taking the lives of the people, civilians have been killed and wounded as a result of war, on the other side, many people were displaced which is a matter of grave concern to us,” said Zabiullah Farhang, a spokesman for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
The NATO envoy said that the level of violence is very high, saying a continued violence only takes lives of the Afghan people.
Meanwhile, the commander of Special Operations Corps has said that Afghan commandos are now leading the war against the Taliban in Helmand.
Footage shared by the Afghan security forces showed fierce fighting between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban in Helmand.
“With the arrival of fresh forces and the commandos, we are now leading the war, the joint operation is advancing and we have significant gains so far,” said Mohammad Farid Ahmadi, the commander of Special Operations Corps.
According to UN statistics, so far 35,000 people in Helmand have been displaced over the current war in Helmand.
This comes as war in Helmand comtinued into its sixth day on Thursday.