Jawand district residents face starvation as Taliban block deliveries, burn food

By Omar

The Taliban have tightened their siege on Jawand district centre, preventing the entry of food and medications and setting fire to a convoy of aid from the Badghis provincial capital, local authorities said. [Shameel Mashal/Social media]

HERAT -- The Taliban have tightened their siege on Jawand district centre, preventing the entry of food and medications and setting fire to an aid convoy, local authorities say.

The Taliban's actions -- especially egregious as their latest obstructions coincide with the holy month of Ramadan -- have brought local residents to the brink of starvation, with some reporting they have had no choice but to eat grass.

In a video that went viral on social media, Taliban fighters are seen seizing and setting fire to a convoy of food that was supposed to go from the Badghis provincial capital of Qala-e-Naw to Jawand district.

The video was recorded in January in the village of Chahr Gaw, said Badghis governor Hesamuddin Shams.

A video screenshot shows the Taliban burning a food convoy meant for the residents of Jawand district, Badghis province.

A video screenshot shows the Taliban burning a food convoy meant for the residents of Jawand district, Badghis province.

Jawand district residents accused the Taliban of attempting to starve the villagers into surrendering to the militants.

Under seige

The Taliban have closed all roads leading to Jawand district and are not allowing anyone to enter or leave the district centre, said Ramazan, a local resident.

"When locals try to transport their food supplies from Qala-e-Naw to Jawand district by donkey, the Taliban take everything from them and then burn it," he said.

In one particularly humiliating incident, the Taliban forced a vendor to ride backwards on his donkey as they parade him around the district, Ramazan said.

"The Taliban do not allow villagers to go about their lives, forcing them to comply with their compete siege," said Khodadad, another local resident.

"Residents of Jawand district centre cannot go to Qala-e-Naw or other areas," he said. "Our survival fully depends on airlifts by the government."

The Taliban do not even allow patients to go to Qala-e-Naw for treatment, Khodadad said, adding that "some patients have lost their lives because of the Taliban's oppression".

The Taliban have surrounded Jawand district because local residents support the government and the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), said Badghis deputy governor Abdullah Fazli.

They have been trying to force local residents to support them instead, he said, but "public support for the government has thwarted all efforts by the Taliban to overrun the district centre".

Vital government support

For the past three years, all roads leading to Jawand district have been closed by the Taliban and the group has planted land mines along many roads, Shams said.

To circumvent the Taliban's siege, Afghan National Army (ANA) helicopters have been transporting essential supplies to area residents, the latest of which from Qala-e-Naw to Jawand district centre on April 14, including 92 tonnes of food supplies and two tonnes of medication.

"We will continue to provide assistance to Jawand district residents by air," Shams said, adding that Afghan forces are seeking to break the Taliban's siege and open up all public roads.

The Taliban seek to starve local villagers because "Jawand district residents have been supporting national security forces as well as participating in elections over the past years," said Abdul Basir Osmani, a member of the Wolesi Jirga from Badghis province.

Though the Taliban pressure locals to distance themselves from the government, residents will not give in or change their views, he said, noting that the government's assistance has saved the lives of many families.

Starving women and children

Because of the Taliban's seige, women and children spend nights hungry, said Mawlawi Abdul Hadi Hakimi, a religious scholar in Jawand district.

The Taliban have surrounded Jawand district to mentally and physically torture villagers, he said, describing their actions as going "against Islamic principles and human values".

The Taliban have not allowed residents to leave the area for work, leaving some with no means to feed their families, said district resident Shah Mahmood.

"We ran out of wheat flour, rice and even bread few days ago," he said.

"We were very concerned about having nothing to observe the holy month of Ramadan," he added. "The government food aid has therefore been very essential and timely."

"With recent government assistance, we will have sufficient food supplies in the coming months," Mahmood said.

"We are grateful to our security forces for rescuing our families from hunger," said Jawand district resident Shir Ahmad.

"If there is no government support, the Taliban will kill us," he said. "The Taliban repeatedly attempted to attack civilian houses in Jawand district centre; however, they were defeated by our national security forces and the residents."

"We will continue to stand alongside our national security forces, no matter how much pressure the Taliban put on us," Ahmad said.

Do you like this article?

1 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

In the 20-year long war, the poor and destitute people of Afghanistan were ruined. Either government should defeat Taliban and capture all the areas from Taliban and provide nationwide security in the country, or let Taliban come, because people have been very tired of war. If this war continues for another decade, people of this country may starve to death. Poverty is increasing day by day due to the war and unemployment. When poverty increases, theft and robbery increase. You witnessed that thieves took the lives of innocent people for the sake of a mobile phone. If there is no poverty and people are not hungry but full, they will never kill anyone for a small amount of money. So when this is the case, many poor Afghan families may leave and seek refuge in the neighboring countries, because here people’s lives are in danger. On one hand, Taliban and the government are killing, and on the other hand, the thieves are taking the lives of the people.