Displaced families in Herat decry ongoing Taliban violence

By Omar

More than 1,000 families have been forced to leave their homes in recent weeks in Afghanistan, amid an uptick in violence while the Taliban and Afghan government are engaged in slow-moving peace talks. [Omar]

HERAT -- As violence has increased in Afghanistan in recent weeks, more than 1,000 families have been displaced from Maidan Wardak, Daikundi, Helmand, Ghor and Badghis provinces and are now living in small tents in Guzara District of Herat Province.

They say the war has taken everything from them, and they call on the Taliban and the Afghan government to immediately declare a ceasefire and allow peace to prevail.

The displaced families have left their houses, jobs and livelihoods because of war and unrest and live in poverty without shelter, said Muhammad Ali, a resident of Daikundi Province who was recently displaced to Herat.

"Our hope is that we have peace so that we can live and work in security," he said. "We need peace just like we need our blood to stay alive."

Internally displaced families are seen October 3 in Guzara District, Herat Province. [Omar]

Internally displaced families are seen October 3 in Guzara District, Herat Province. [Omar]

"We call on the government and the Taliban to make peace soon," he said.

"The war has taken lives from us. Nearly 50 of my relatives lost their lives in the war," Ali said. "We need peace. We demand peace first from God and then from the Taliban and the government."

Families running for their lives

Aqila, a mother of four from Helmand Province, is now living in a small tent with her children.

"There was war every day in our area, and we weren't safe during the day or at night," she said. "I left my village for Herat as I was afraid that my children would be killed."

"I hope there will be peace so that we can return to our village and get rid of these difficulties," she said.

"We call on the Taliban and the government to make peace so that the war no longer takes lives," Aqila said. "We are tired of war, and I don't want my children to grow up in a war as we did."

Sultan Muhammad, 70, said he left his home in Maidan Wardak Province "because of war and unrest and the Taliban's attacks".

"Our homes and mosques were burned in the war and destroyed, and we had to rescue ourselves," he said. "We hope that peace comes to Afghanistan so that the Afghan people, like people in other countries, can live in security and comfort."

The Taliban are Afghans too; therefore, "the government and the Taliban should sit with each other and make peace", Muhammad said.

"We are fed up with the war, and I myself have been injured ... several times," he said.

Government providing emergency assistance

In under two years, more than 65,000 families from various provinces have been displaced to Herat by war and unrest, according to the Herat Department of Refugees and Repatriations.

Each family displaced because of war receives 15,000 to 30,000 AFN ($194-$389) per year provided by the department's relief programme and partner agencies.

Families with more members have received more aid, said Ahmad Jawid Nadem, director of the Herat Department of Refugees and Repatriations.

"When the war-afflicted families arrive in Herat Province, the Department of Refugees and Repatriations interviews them and provides them with emergency aid," he said. "First, they are given tents, food and clothes."

The displaced families come with nothing because they left everything they had in their villages, said Nadem.

"As the weather gets colder, the displaced and war-affected families face even more challenges because they live in tents," he said. "The Afghan government is making efforts to provide food and suitable clothes to these families before it gets cold."

The government will not abandon families who have left their homes because of the oppression of armed anti-government elements and conflict, said Jilani Farhad, spokesman for the Herat governor.

"The Herat local government is determined to give support to its fellow countrymen who have taken refuge in Herat because of war and unrest," he said. "Every year, the Afghan government provides cash, food, tents and clothes to the displaced families."

Afghan war is not 'jihad'

Innocent civilians are the main victims of the war in Afghanistan, and therefore the war is illegitimate according to Islamic teachings, religious scholars say.

"The war between two groups of Muslims is illegitimate, and the sacred religion of Islam doesn't accept it," said Maulawi Ali Muhammad Rahmani, a religious scholar in Badghis Province.

"Any group that justifies killing Muslims and war between them is wrong, and they are responsible for every life that is taken in the war," he said.

"Fighting against the security forces is illegitimate, and no one has the right to justify this illegitimate war in the name of religion," he added. "This violence must immediately end."

Anyone who claims the war is "jihad" is mistaken because war against fellow Muslims is forbidden under Sharia law, Rahmani said.

"The Taliban should not continue fighting and shedding the blood of the Muslim children of this country," he said. "Both the Taliban and government should use the opportunity for peace and put an immediate end to the destructive war and the bloodshed of Afghans."

The war victimises Afghans every day and should immediately end because all the victims of this war are Muslims, said Maulawi Akhtar Muhammad, another religious scholar in Badghis Province.

Continuing the war is illegitimate, and its only achievement will be the destruction of Afghanistan, he said.

"We call on the Taliban to have mercy on their country and show flexibility for building peace and putting an end to the war," he said.

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ongoing wars made a lot of people in this country miserable.