Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, has been taken over by the Taliban.
After Taliban has started taking control of major cities, thousands of internally displaced people have arrived in Kabul, believing it to be their last safe haven. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), food shortages are “dire.” It foresaw a humanitarian disaster.
The Taliban seized Kandahar, the country’s second largest city and the latest provincial capital to fall, on Friday.
Kandahar, in the country’s south, has been under Taliban siege for weeks, and many experts believe its fall marks the beginning of the end for the country’s US-backed administration.
Because of its international airport, agricultural and industrial production, the 600,000-strong southern city is strategically important. The insurgents also grabbed control of Lashkar Gah, a neighboring city, and now control almost a third of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals.
After 20 years of military operations, US and other foreign soldiers are withdrawing. According to the United Nations, over 1,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in the last month alone.
Sahraa Karimi, a Kabul-based Afghan filmmaker, told the BBC that she believed the world had turned its back on Afghanistan and that she feared a return to “dark days.” In the 1990s, women were required to wear the all-covering burka, education was banned for girls above the age of ten, and harsh punishments, including public executions, were enacted.
Many people fleeing Kabul have taken to sleeping on the streets. According to Save the Youngsters, about 72,000 children are among those rushing to the capital in recent days.
“We have no money to buy bread, or get some medicine for my child,” Asadullah, a 35-year-old street vendor who fled northern Kunduz province after the Taliban set fire to his home, told the BBC.
“All of our home and belongings caught fire, so we came to Kabul and pray to God to help us,” added Asadullah, who is now with his family in Kabul.
Nearly 3,000 US troops would be deployed to Kabul Airport to evacuate a “substantial” number of embassy personnel on special flights. The embassy has received allegations that the Taliban are executing Afghan forces who are surrendering, which “may constitute war crimes,”. The United Kingdom is sending 600 troops to help British citizens fleeing the country. The British embassy’s staff has been reduced to the core.
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