EU calls for urgent cease-fire in Afghanistan

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN - AUGUST 05: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - "UZBEKISTAN'S MINISTRY OF DEFENSE / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Soldiers take part in a joint military exercise of Uzbekistan and Russia at Tirmiz polygon on Uzbekistan's border with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan on August 05, 2021. Joint military training exercise between Russia and Uzbekistan started in the Tirmiz polygon on Uzbekistan's border with Afghanistan. ( UZBEKISTAN'S MINISTRY OF DEFENSE - Anadolu Agency )

Taliban ‘fighters or commanders’ responsible for human rights violations ‘must be held accountable,’ say EU top officials

ANKARA (AA) – The EU on Thursday called for an “urgent, comprehensive and permanent” cease-fire in Afghanistan to “give peace a chance.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic in a joint statement have condemned the “significant escalation of violence” across the country caused by the Taliban’s “intensified attacks.”

The statement specifically mentioned last week’s armed attack on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) office in Herat province, and fighting in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province’s capital, which resulted in at least 40 civilian casualties. And the last Tuesday’s deadly car bombing, targeting Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi’s Kabul residence, which killed eight people and injured 20 others.

“This senseless violence is inflicting immense suffering upon Afghan citizens and is increasing the number of internally displaced persons in search of safety and shelter. The Taliban’s offensive is in direct contradiction to their stated commitment to a negotiated settlement of the conflict and the Doha peace process,” the statement read.

The statement also stressed that violations of international humanitarian law and human rights principles, particularly in Taliban-controlled areas, continue to rock the war-torn country, such as “arbitrary and extrajudicial killings of civilians, public lashing of women, and the destruction of infrastructure.”

“Some of these acts could amount to war crimes and will have to be investigated. Those Taliban fighters or commanders responsible must be held accountable,” it added.

Faced with deadly Taliban onslaught, the Afghan government on Wednesday reiterated its calls for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the ongoing violence in the country.

The UN in Afghanistan has documented an alarming 5,183 civilian casualties, 1,659 killed and 3,524 injured, in the first half of this year, a 47 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2020.

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