Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
July 30, 2020
The United Nations says that more than 100,000 people fled conflict inside Afghanistan’s borders so far this year amid continued violence, despite an agreement between the United States and the Taliban intended to pave the way for intra-Afghan peace talks.
The UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) also reported on July 30 that nearly 10,000 people were displaced due to heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban militants in the northeastern provinces of the country last week, while another 600 people were displaced in the south for the same reason.
The United States and Taliban struck an agreement in February intended to pave the way for intra-Afghan peace talks between the militants and the U.S.-backed government in Kabul to end nearly 18 years of war.
Although the Taliban has refrained from attacking U.S. and NATO forces, militants continue to stage near daily attacks on Afghan security forces.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on July 28 that more than 10,000 government troops had been killed or wounded since the U.S.-Taliban deal was signed.
The UN has documented more than 1,200 civilian deaths in the first half of 2020.
The Taliban has announced a three-day cease-fire for the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday, which will start early on July 31. The government has said it will reciprocate.
U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who arrived in Kabul on July 29 as part of a regional tour to push the peace process, hailed the development in a tweet, saying “our hope is this Eid brings all Afghans together in understanding & mutual respect and one step closer to a sustainable peace.”
Under the U.S.-Taliban deal, Kabul was to release around 5,000 Taliban in exchange for the militants freeing 1,000 government and military personnel.
To date, Kabul has freed about 4,000 militants and the Taliban nearly 800 government forces. The Taliban has accused Afghan security forces of rearresting insurgents who had been released.
But Ghani on July 28 signaled progress in the prisoner exchange, saying Kabul would “soon” finish the swap.
Late on July 29, the Taliban said it would complete the release of government prisoners by Eid as a “goodwill gesture.”
With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters and dpa