11 August 2021
As the U.S. military leaves Afghanistan, Taliban fighters are trying to take over parts of the country. The Taliban members are fighting against Afghan government soldiers in the north, and many people are running away from the violence.
The people trying to escape the fighting are running to the capital city of Kabul, where they live in open green spaces known as parks, and on streets with little food or water.
About 17,000 people left their homes in the north and came to Kabul in the last two weeks, said a spokesman for the Afghan government.
Michelle Bachelet is the United Nations' human rights chief. She said close to 200 civilians were killed and over 1,000 were injured since only Monday during fighting in the cities of Lashkar Gah, Kandahar, Herat and Kunduz.
In reality, she said, the numbers may be much higher. Bachelet said people told the U.N. stories of civilians being lined up and killed, attacks against Afghan government officials and their families, homes and schools being destroyed and mines and explosive devices being placed on the ground.
With the exit of the soldiers who worked to keep Afghanistan safe from the Taliban for 20 years, Bachelet said the U.N. is worried progress in human rights will be lost.
One teenager, Nasir Ahmed, said he saw Taliban fighters hurting a man who had a photo of himself with the Afghan flag on his phone. He said he also saw fighters hurting women whose head coverings were not correct.
He said he left his village because the fighting was too close. He is worried about his future.
"I missed the last year of school because of COVID-19 and this year because of war. I don't see any future for myself," he said.
One woman said she has been in a park in the northern part of Kabul for three days. The government offered no help. She has been getting food from other people. She left her village after some of the men in her family were killed while fighting the Taliban. Other men in her family were killed later because they were related to those fighting against the Taliban.
"The Taliban have no mercy," she said.
Some people in the parks are worried that their government will not be able to defeat the Taliban. Fawzia Karimi left her home in Kunduz and came to Kabul with five of her children.
"If the government cannot do anything, it should just stop the bombardment and let the Taliban rule," she said.
In one park in Kabul, there are 400 people living with only two toilets. There is no medical help and many people have health problems.
Another woman, Najia, said she came from Kunduz with her five children and husband. She said they left after their home was caught in the battle. She said all types of ammunition were exploding nearby.
"The whole north is ablaze with war," she said.
I'm Dan Friedell.
Tameem Akhgar wrote this story for the Associated Press. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.
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Words in This Story
related –adj. in the same family
mercy –n. kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly
bombardment –n. an attack with large guns or bombs
toilet –n. a large bowl attached to a pipe that is used for getting rid of bodily waste and then flushed with water
ablaze –v. in the process of burning