Caught between the Taliban, Islamic State and US airstrikes, Afghan civilians have been forced to flee their homes to the outskirts of Jalalabad, where they found refuge inside an unfinished university building.
Around 1,500 internally displaced people (IDPs), including hundreds of women and children, are reportedly seeking refuge in the area, many of them from the Achin and Haska Meyna districts in the Nangarhar Province of southern Afghanistan.
They have fled the fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban, as well as the atrocities of other terrorist groups.
“Islamic State militants slaughtered our uncle, saying he was a spy, so we left our homes as they said the next day they will also kill us,” a Pashto-speaking man from Haska Meyna said.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has had a presence in Afghanistan since around 2015, and most people who are now sheltering in Jalalabad suffered immensely at the hands of IS terrorists.
“Islamic State groups brutally attacked civilians, the Afghanistan National Army and foreign forces came to the battlefield and then the US used the 'mother of all bombs' in our village,” a refugee from Achin said.
The US military dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed ‘The Mother of All Bombs’ and the most powerful non-nuclear explosive device on the planet, on a suspected IS hideout in the Achin district, killing over 90 militants in April.
And although there has been no officially confirmed civilian casualties at the epicenter, the impact of the blast caused damage as far as in the neighboring villages.
Many more Afghan civilians are caught in the crossfire, having to flee not only the militants, but also drone strikes and army shelling.
“Islamic state militants attacked our village, and now we don't have anything.
Everything has been destroyed by shells and drone aircrafts,” said a refugee from Achin.
“We were there in the school, I was a student in our village.
Here I can’t study. We left our homes because of war,” one of the refugee children told Ruptly.
According to statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Afghanistan has over 2,300,00 internally displaced people out of a population of around 33 million.
The Taliban, which still has a significant presence in the country despite the US-led war efforts and support to the Afghan government, has recently stepped up its attacks, mostly in the south of the country.
Over the weekend the militants seized a key area in the north.
Since the 2001 invasion, Washington is estimated to have spent over $700 billion on military assistance, reconstruction and economic aid to Afghanistan, but a large portion of that money appears to have been squandered by the country’s military and political elites.
President Donald Trump, apparently dissatisfied that the US seems to be “losing” rather than “winning” the Afghan war, reportedly contemplated at a staff meeting that Army General John Nicholson, commander of US troops in Afghanistan, be fired and replaced.
The US leader also reportedly suggested deploying additional troops to in an attempt to prevail in a 16-year war that has been dragging on longer than the Iraq and Vietnam campaigns.