Statement by Tadamichi Yamamoto on the clashes in Ghazni
KABUL - The Taliban’s attack against Ghazni city, and the subsequent fighting in densely populated urban spaces, has again caused terrible suffering to civilians caught in the conflict. Equally unacceptable, the fight for the city of Ghazni has exacerbated deep-rooted wounds dividing Afghan communities at a time when cohesion is more crucial than ever before.
Reports indicate that the casualty toll in Ghazni is immense – among government forces, Taliban fighters and civilians. Unconfirmed estimates range from 110 to 150 civilian casualties. Reliable information indicates that the Ghazni Public Hospital is overwhelmed by a continuous influx of injured government forces, Taliban fighters and civilians.
Reports also indicate that the situation in Ghazni for non-combatants remains particularly grim, as the fighting has led to electricity outages along with water and food shortages. Communication networks and media outlets have been shuttered, and roads remain blocked, preventing freedom of movement for families seeking safety.
Humanitarian actors ready and willing to supply desperately needed assistance must be given explicit, public and absolute guarantees by all parties to the conflict that they will be allowed to operate safely, without hindrance or any attempts to interfere with distribution carried out under humanitarian principles.
The extreme human suffering caused by the fighting in Ghazni highlights the urgent need for the war in Afghanistan to end. The United Nations continues to maintain that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Government has extended an unprecedented overture to talk with the Taliban rather than to fight. The most recent Eid ceasefire on 15-17 June illustrated to all Afghans, especially those too young to have known anything but war, what peace looks like. It is therefore vital for this war to come to an end through an Afghan-led negotiated settlement.
The fighting in Ghazni must stop and the fighting in Afghanistan must stop. Confidence-building steps that immediately reduce violence are crucial, and talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are necessary to identify and expand common ground. The United Nations stands ready to support any endeavours that would advance peace in Afghanistan.
Tadamichi Yamamoto is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).