United Against Inhumanity (UAI) Statement on the Situation in Afghanistan
UAI is outraged that, after 40 years of war and foreign military intervention, armed conflict has surged in recent months with a dramatic increase in civilian casualties. According to the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the number of Afghans killed and injured in May and June was the highest for these months since systematic recording began in 2008. Overall, there has been a 47% increase in civilians killed and wounded in the first six months of this year compared to 2020. All warring parties – the Government and its military supporters, the Taliban and other anti-government groups – have routinely disregarded the sanctity of civilian life including through indiscriminate warfare. Attacks include the targeted killing of individuals in particular professions such as human rights defenders, journalists, women in public positions and schoolgirls, as well as sectarian attacks on ethnic minorities.
The surge in the human costs of war is happening as the Taliban push to take territory as US and NATO forces drawdown their troops. Widespread corruption, poverty and insecurity have greatly diminished support for, and confidence in the government.
Meanwhile, Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries and in other parts of the world are being forcibly returned to Afghanistan even as violence and instability increase. With an estimated 270,000 people forcibly displaced from their homes, by war, drought, and hunger, in the first six months of 2021, the need for life-saving humanitarian action is urgent. And yet, the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan, issued by the United Nations, was only 38% funded, end of July 2021.
In recent months, there have been alarming reports of the widespread use of pressure-plate Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which, because of their indiscriminate nature, operate like anti-personnel (AP) mines and are banned under the 1997 Ottawa Convention to which Afghanistan is a party and to which the Taliban are also committed.
Afghans in all parts of the country have been subjected to war crimes and crimes against humanity by different sets of belligerents. It is long past time that the perpetrators of the most egregious crimes, and those who enable such criminal acts, are held to account including by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
UAI therefore calls for:
1. An immediate ceasefire and the resumption of inclusive peace negotiations.
2. An immediate halt to targeted attacks on civil society.
3. Urgent funding support, particularly for those recently displaced, from donor governments for the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2021.
4. An immediate end to the forcible return of Afghan refugees and the provision of protection and assistance to all in need of refuge. States that have participated in, or supported, military action in Afghanistan have a moral as well as legal responsibility to accept refugees who have been endangered by their military or undercover activities.
5. An immediate halt to the use of IEDs, landmines and other explosive weapons with indiscriminate impact on civilians.
6. Urgent action, including by the ICC, to hold the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to account.
UAI, 3 August 2021
Thank you to from UAI to ©Ahlam Almulaiki @cnvschq for the illustration