September 22, 2021, Wednesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Huge rise in Afghanistan IDPs as thousands flee Taliban advance

The Nepal Weekly
August 10, 2021

Afghanistan is witnessing an enormous rise in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) since the withdrawal of foreign troops began in May, according to a report published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Nearly 250,000 people have been internally displaced since the beginning of May, when the Taliban group began multiple attacks against the Western-backed Afghan government, an increase of more than 300 percent compared with the same period last year.

According to the report, most of the people are fleeing from northeastern and eastern Afghanistan. Most of them  lack adequate shelter, access to medical care and sufficient food, it said. Many initially fled their homes in rural areas due to fighting, seeking refuge in provincial capitals.

However, the fighting has shifted to urban centres in recent weeks as the Taliban closes in on many of Afghanistan’s larger cities.

In the last few days alone, the resurgent Taliban has assumed control of five Afghan provincial capitals, mainly in the north of the country, including Kunduz, the sixth-largest city in Afghanistan, which fell to the group on Sunday.

As the Taliban advance across Afghanistan shows no sign of slowing, IDP numbers are expected to increase further.

At present, heavy fighting is continuing between the government and Taliban forces around the capitals of Helmand, Kandahar, Herat, and Badakhshan provinces.

Attempted peace talks between the two sides held in Qatar last year have made little progress and have now mostly stalled.

President Joe Biden has confirmed that United States troops will end their 20-year military invasion in Afghanistan by the end of August, while NATO has already ended its mission in the country.

A spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar has told Al Jazeera that there is no agreement on a ceasefire with the Afghan government, and warned against further US intervention in Afghanistan.

“Our response is clear. We want a peaceful solution to the Afghan issue,” said Suhail Shaheen, international media spokesman for the Taliban.