Marchers walked under the scorching sun whilst fasting for Ramadan. Of all ages, they share the pain of the violence they witnessed and a desire for peace. The Taliban refuse to extent the truce and announce new attacks. The Islamic State group never stopped the attacks.
Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After more than 700 km and almost 40 days under the scorching sun of Afghanistan, the Peace Convoy has arrived in Kabul with a clear message to the government and the Taliban: end the war.
The convoy started in May in Helmand province, following a suicide attack in March that claimed tens lives.
At the beginning eight people set off on foot. This morning, 90 people arrived in Kabul, recognisable by the blue bands worn on the chest. They range in age from 17 to 65, and all fasted during Ramadan.
All of them were united by the violence they have seen and by a desperate desire for peace, their demand made in a strong voice amid crying and visible emotion.
Some left their jobs to join the march, appealing to people and young people to speak out for peace. "We are calling on the Taliban to stop the bloodshed,” one of them told Tolo News. “We want peace and even if we lose our lives, we will continue this movement."
The youngest marcher, 17-year-old Mohammed Tahir, usually led the file, pushing a stroller packed with emergency necessities — a pair of crutches, umbrellas, a plastic rug, some spare sandals and a solar panel to charge their phones.
Another marcher, Bahlul Patyal, is a pharmacist who joined the caravan in Lashkar Gah (south of Afghanistan, more than 600 km from Kabul).
Every time they stopped for break at a mosque, he treated wounds and stomach aches with gauze, pharmaceuticals (see picture 3, left) and good humour. “You know,” he said, “my wife told me that I shouldn’t even dare coming back through the door if I don’t lose weight on this march.”
The members of the convoy pushed their demand for peace during Eid celebrations (15-17 June), marked by an historic truce between the government and the Taliban.
The unprecedented three-day break is now at an end. The Islamist rebel group rejected the appeal by the marchers and the Afghan government, to extend the truce.
After sharing selfies and celebrating the end of Islam’s holy month with Afghan soldiers, the group announced that it will soon go back to fight.
For Afghans, caught between the Taliban and the Islamic State group (which did not observe any truce), peace remains a far away goal.
On 16 and 17 June, during the Eid celebrations, suicide bombers hit Jalalabad, killing 36 and 19 people respectively. The victims include Taliban, government troops and civilians. The Islamic State claimed responsibility only the first attack and is suspected in the second as well.