Never-ending war: Thousands of Afghans displaced ahead of US withdrawal
“The war isn’t over,” residents of one of Kabul’s refugee camps told RT’s Lucy Kafanov. Tens of thousands of Afghans have been displaced by conflict in the country and their situation is not likely to change with the withdrawal of US troops this year.
“There’s no difference anymore between the Americans, the government or the Taliban,” Aisha Bibi, one of the residents of a district on the outskirts of Kabul populated by Afghan citizens fleeing from violence, told Kafanov. Three generations of her family were killed in an airstrike in Helmand province.
“On the ground, there were Taliban and in the skies were planes with bombs. We lost everything.”
Aisha is just one of over 100,000 Afghan citizens forced from their homes by the ongoing violence that still grips the country. Many have taken refuge in crumbling shanty towns on the outskirts of Kabul and are unable to return to their homes. Residents are forced to live without electricity and running water and with jobs thin on the ground many are hard pressed to pull themselves out of poverty.
“The Taliban control our village now. They use our houses as military bases and the government has no power in our area. So what choice did we have? Either die or leave,” said Muhammad Nawazi from southern Helmand.
The prospect of the US Army pulling out of the country brings little solace to the refugees, many of whom don’t see an end to the violence.
“The war isn’t over. If we go back, we will be killed. It’s an internal war now and I don’t see it ending in the near future,” Ahmed, displaced from Helmand, told Lucy Kafanov.
US President Barack Obama has hailed the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 as successful in putting the Taliban and al-Qaeda on “the path to defeat,” but Gaetan Drossart, Chief of Mission for Medecins sans Frontieres in Kabul, says the reality of the situation couldn’t be more different.
“The truth is there is no such success story at all,” he told RT. “The international forces are leaving the country so they need a reason and they need also a rationale to explain to their population why now they can leave.”
He said the war will continue for the Afghan population for years to come.
Washington has scheduled the withdrawal of its troops for the end of this year. However, the US has presented the Afghan government with a security pact which would allow thousands of American soldiers to remain in the country after withdrawal to aid in the security effort. Presidential election frontrunners Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai have said they will sign the deal if they are voted in.
The presidential elections were held April 5 across Afghanistan, but multiple allegations of fraud have delayed the results from being announced. Current President Hamid Karzai has refused to put pen to paper on the security pact, prompting threats from Washington of a possible “zero option” where no troops are left behind to aid the security effort.