Killing of Afghan civilians must end - GulfToday

Killing of Afghan civilians must end


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

At a time when the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been wreaking havoc around the world, abhorrent violence targeting helpless civilians continues unabated in Afghanistan and this is not acceptable.

Last week, at least 14 people were killed, including two newborn babies, when gunmen attacked a maternity hospital in the capital, Kabul.

The incident occurred just hours after a suicide blast killed at least 24 people and wounded scores more at a funeral in Nangarhar, located in the east of the country.

In the latest attack, a suicide bomber in a stolen military Humvee targeted a base in Eastern Afghanistan belonging to the country’s intelligence service killing many members of the force.

Mindless violence should end.

Hospitals, medical facilities and personnel have special protection under international humanitarian law. Those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable.

The signing of a power-sharing agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah is a welcome development.

The political deal would see Ghani remain president. The deal also calls for Abdullah to lead the country’s National Reconciliation High Council, and he will be able to appoint half of Ghani’s Cabinet and issue executive orders.

Now that the Reconciliation Council has been given the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to Afghanistan’s peace process, one hopes all sides move towards enduring peace.

A peace agreement between the US and the Taliban signed on Feb.29 calls for US and NATO troops to leave Afghanistan. It was seen at the time as Afghanistan’s best chance at peace following decades of war.

Since then, the US has been trying to get the Taliban and the Afghan government to begin intra-Afghan negotiations, but the political turmoil impeded talks. Negotiations that were to take place in March never happened.

Despite 18 years and billions of dollars in international aid, the country remains poor largely because of the continuing violence.

The poverty level soared from 35% of the population in 2012 to more than 55% last year.

It is hard to comprehend how heinous attacks on civilians could be committed when Afghanistan is being ravaged by the pandemic. The country’s health care system, devastated by four decades of war, is woefully unprepared for a major outbreak.

More than 32,000 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed in the past decade, as per UN figures.

More children were killed last year — 927 — than in any other over the past decade.

The UAE, on its part, has always been a staunch supporter of peace.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has rightly renewed its call for an immediate ceasefire and reaffirmed its support for a similar call by the Afghan President and the UN Secretary-General.

The United Arab Emirates has also welcomed the signing of a power-sharing agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah while expressing hope that the deal represents a step towards enhancing stability, peace, and security throughout Afghanistan.

The Ministry has correctly urged parties to achieve peace and security in the country as soon as possible while continuing humanitarian efforts to combat COVID-19.

It has also reiterated its firm stance alongside the people of Afghanistan and all voices calling for calm to spare the lives of innocent people.

Continued acts of terrorism will only lead to more killing, the terrorising of innocent civilians, and the aggravation of destruction and instability in the country, as the ministry pointed out.

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