Qatar-hosted international talks to end the fighting in Afghanistan are expected to continue in Doha on Thursday.
Participants include officials from the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan and representatives from the Afghan government and Taliban (the so-called ‘extended troika’.)
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are at risk as fighting intensifies in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, The UN human rights chief urged an end to the Taliban offensive on Afghan cities and said her office was receiving reports of possible war crimes. “The Taliban must cease their military operations in cities. Unless all parties return to the negotiating table and reach a peaceful settlement, the already atrocious situation for so many Afghans will become much worse,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
The Taliban’s widespread seizure of cities and regions “have struck fear and dread into the population,” she said, warning that the proliferation of pro-government militias mobilised against the Taliban could also put civilians at risk.
The Taliban claims more provincial capitals have fallen to them since last week.
“Perpetrators of serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law must be held accountable,” Michelle Bachelet said.
The ICRC calls for civilians and vital infrastructure such as hospitals to be protected from attack and any collateral damage caused by fighting in populated areas.
“Health-care facilities, medical workers, and ambulances must be spared at all cost,” said Eloi Fillion, ICRC’s head of delegation in Afghanistan. “We also call on all fighting parties to allow humanitarian organisations like the ICRC and ARCS to safely evacuate the injured and bring much-needed assistance to the civilian population.” https://www.icrc.org/en/document/afghanistan-red-cross-supported-health-facilities-treat-more-4000-people-wounded-weapons
The Taliban have captured Aybak in Samangan province and Farah in the southwest this week.
Kunduz was captured on Sunday and the Taliban also claimed the province of Sar-e-Pul and the strategic capital of Sheberghan in Jowzjan Province.
Taliban is accused of serious atrocities “summary executions, attacks against current and former government officials and their family members, military use and destruction of homes, schools and clinics, and the laying of large numbers of improvised explosive devices (IEDs),” Michelle Bachelet said. “Directing attacks against civilians is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and amounts to a war crime,” she said in a statement from her Geneva headquarters.
The Taliban initially captured the provincial capital of Zaranj, the first city to fall since the U.S. and its partners began pulling out the last of their forces.
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