Number of Displaced Afghans Has More Than Doubled Since 2013

By Mujib Mashal  and Zahra Nader

A sign that the war continues to affect civilians in large numbers came even as Amnesty sought to draw attention to their desperate situation. The Taliban attacked passenger buses in the northern province of Kunduz early Tuesday morning, killing at least 10 passengers and abducting dozens, local officials said.

The Amnesty report, released at a news conference in Kabul, the capital, said that many of the 1.2 million displaced Afghans were living in miserable conditions in camps, lacking adequate water, food and health facilities.

While their number, which stood at about 500,000 at the end of 2012, has more than doubled since then, resources allocated to dealing with the situation have reached the lowest point since 2009, the report said.

In 2015, it said, the United Nations allocated $292 million for its humanitarian response to displaced Afghans.

“While the world’s attention seems to have moved on from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the plight of those left behind by the conflict,” said Champa Patel, South Asia director at Amnesty International.

“Even after fleeing their homes to seek safety,” she said, “increasing numbers of Afghans are languishing in appalling conditions in their own country and fighting for their survival with no end in sight.”

The violence on Tuesday in Kunduz Province, whose capital briefly fell to the Taliban in the fall, came after weeks of concern about the insurgents’ disruption of the main highway in the north. They have attacked convoys on the highway in Kunduz and in the neighboring province of Baghlan.

The number of passengers killed and abducted on Tuesday was unclear, with officials providing different figures.

The deputy police commander for Kunduz, Masoom Khan Hashemi, said the Taliban had abducted about 175 passengers from two buses and a van that were traveling to Takhar and Badakhshan Provinces.

The attackers killed 10 of the passengers, of whom nine bodies were retrieved by the police, Mr. Hashemi said. They held 18 others and freed the rest.

“When we were opening our shops early in the morning, they were slowly freeing some of the passengers, among them women and children,” said Khial Mohammad, a shopkeeper in the nearby area of Shna Tapa.

Mr. Hashemi said the passengers were “not soldiers, government contractors or related to the government,” but local elders and family members who came to retrieve bodies at the main Kunduz hospital said that at least some of those killed were members of the Afghan police or local government militias who were traveling home.

The Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement that the insurgents had detained 26 members of the Afghan Army and police who were traveling in civilian clothes, and had let go other passengers from three vehicles they had stopped. Six of the detainees were killed as they were trying to flee, the statement said.