‘We are homeless now’: Fighting displaces thousands in Afghanistan’s north

Since May, Taliban has launched major attacks targeting government forces across the rugged countryside.

Afghan families have fled their homes in Kunduz province after days of fighting between Taliban and government forces.
Afghan families have fled their homes in Kunduz province after days of fighting between Taliban and government forces. (Mian Khursheed / Reuters)

Thousands of families have fled their homes after days of heavy fighting between the Taliban fighters and government forces in Afghanistan’s northern region, officials said.

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The insurgents have seized villages and roads in far-flung areas in recent days, triggering fierce battles with the Afghan National Army.

“The situation is getting worse. There is no electricity or access to basic necessities. My family, including me, fled from Kunduz to Kabul but there are many families that are left behind and stuck in very difficult circumstances,” Abdul Rauf, a resident of Kunduz city, told TRT World.

“If the fighting does not stop, we will be witnessing a humanitarian crisis in Kunduz. People there have no access to food or water at the moment.”

‘We don’t have any hope for our future’

Heavy fighting also continues in Paktia, Baghlan, Khost and Kandahar province with Afghan officials saying the security situation of the country is “deteriorating”.

“Last week Taliban captured around six districts in Paktia. Although the Afghan security forces pushed back the Taliban and cleared those areas, the insurgents continue to attempt to recapture them,” Taj Mohammad Mangal, a member of Paktia’s provincial council, told TRT World.

“In the current situation, the presence and support of air force is very important.”

Sultan Shah, 42, a resident of Zazai Aryoub district in Paktia province, recalled the horrors of the fighting between the Taliban and the government forces saying everyone was “in a constant state of fear”.

“Many families left behind their homes and fled. Local market was shut for a few days and we didn’t have access to enough food or water,” Shah told TRT World.

“Many families are still stuck there and mobile networks don’t work there so we don’t know what happened to them.”

Fashim Gul, a resident of Mosa Khail district in Khost province, said people who could afford to leave have fled the fighting.

“There are many families who are stuck, they don’t have enough to eat to survive. Many people were sick and could not be taken to hospitals. If this continues we don’t have any hope for our future,” Gul told TRT World.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said in a tweet that they have killed about 193 Taliban fighters in the last 24 hours.

US troop withdrawal

The Taliban, which has been waging an armed rebellion since it was toppled from power in a 2001 US-led invasion, briefly captured Kunduz city in recent years but its fighters were pushed back.

Last week they captured the surrounding districts of the city and a nearby border crossing with Tajikistan.

Violence across the country escalated after the US forces began withdrawal of its last remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan, as part of an agreement signed between the Taliban and the US in the Qatari capital, Doha, in February 2020.

The troop withdrawal was slated for May under the agreement that was sealed under former president Donald Trump, but Trump’s successor President Joe Biden extended the deadline to September 11, which would coincide with the 20th anniversary of attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.

Intra-Afghan peace talks

Last week, Biden pledged US support to Afghan leaders in a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani, but said Afghans must decide their own future.

The agreement also called for intra-Afghan peace talks, but it has made little progress and has been hampered by differences.

“We don’t have any hope for peace and our future when we look at the continuing violence, the next generation will suffer more than us,” Gul, said.

The 20-year war in Afghanistan has killed 241,000 people, including Americans, according to Brown University and Boston University’s Costs of War report released in April.

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