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Clashes’ zone near Kandahar to get emergency relief aid

A wheat field burnt during conflict in Arghandab District, Kandahar province. Some battle-affected farmers demand long-term aid to revive their lost and/or damaged livelihoods in Arghandab.
(Sayed Sarwar Amani/IRIN)

The government of Afghanistan and UN agencies have agreed to distribute emergency humanitarian relief immediately to thousands of Battle-Affected Persons (BAPs) in Arghandab District, Kandahar Province.

“Seven thousand families have been verified as in need of assistance,” said Salvatore Lombardo, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative in Afghanistan, adding that the number may increase as verification continues in the coming days.

Two thousand families are expected to receive food and non-food aid in the initial phase which will start on 25 June, aid agencies said. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Kabul said on 24 June that 234 tonnes of mixed food items have been delivered to Arghandab District and would be distributed on 25 June.

Thousands of civilians abandoned their homes in the district after scores of Taliban fighters reportedly raided several villages and prepared to fight Afghan and international forces on 16-17 June, planting landmines and destroying bridges. The insurgents were driven back by Afghan army and NATO-led forces on 19 June.

According to the Defence Ministry, only one civilian was killed during the military operation in which over 90 insurgents and two Afghan soldiers died.

Livelihoods affected

But the impact on local people has been significant. “Some people have been severely affected by the conflict and require long-term assistance to revive their damaged and lost livelihoods,” Mohammad Qasim, the district administrator of Arghandab, told IRIN on 24 June.

Arghandab District, which starts some 10km to the northwest of Kandahar city, is the province’s main fruit producing area, and over 85 percent of its estimated 120,000 population are involved in agriculture.

“In some cases fruit gardens have been damaged, water-sources have been destroyed or fruit that farmers had prepared for delivery to market before the conflict rotted in the sun,” Qasim said, adding: “Obviously farmers are poor and cannot afford such losses.”

Compensation payments

Taliban insurgents have been condemned for their destruction of public and private property in the district, but some locals said they also suffered losses in aerial strikes by international forces.

“What can I do with a sack of wheat? My house has been destroyed and so has my [fruit] garden… I need help to rebuild them,” said a local, Obaidullah.

The US army and over 30 other coalition forces do not offer compensation to civilians who get killed or lose property in military operations, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. However, some NATO member countries, have paid ad hoc “sympathy” and “condolence” payments to families.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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