Photo Credit © Aryana Aid
Did you know that Afghanistan was a key battleground between Soviet and US forces during the Cold War?
NATO and Taliban forces may have claimed the lives of an estimated 16,000 – 19,000 Afghan civilians and injured several thousand more,conflict was present in country long before the current war.
The Afghan Cold War 1979 - 1989:
The Afghan cold war took place between December 1979 and February 1989, and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.
Casualties are estimated at around 850,000 to 1.5 million dead, 1.2 million disabled and 3 million maimed.
At least 25,000 Afghans were killed by land mines with a further 10 to 15 million landmines strategically planted around the countryside; the Red Cross estimated that it would take 4,300 years to remove all the landmines in the region.
A further 5 to 10 million people fled the country during the period and the population of Kandahar, Afghanistan's second largest city, was reduced from 200,000 to 25,000.
At least 50% of Afghan farmers had their land bombed, and 25% had their irrigation system destroyed and livestock shot in 1985, the worst year of the war.
The bombing also destroyed Afghanistan's domestic water supply.
The Afghan civil war 1989 – 1992:
The Soviet Union withdrew from the region in 1989, leaving the Afghan government to deal with local rebellion groups backed by the West.
By 1992 the Afghan economy was in ruins. The Soviet Union withdrew its food aid and the country's natural gas reserves also dried up.
A religious group called the Taliban started to make an appearance at this time, and eventually filled the power vacuum after several more years of conflict between local war lords and criminal gangs.
The illegal drug, human trafficking and sex trade drove the failing economy.
The NATO Taliban war 2001 - present:
The suicide rate among US army personnel has doubled in this war.
The World Health Organization (WHO), also estimates that half of the Afghan population over the age of 15 has a mental health problem; attempted suicide is common especially among the female population; corporal punishment of children by parents, and domestic violence against women in the home is also widespread.
NATO after 13 years of war, formally ended its combat operations end of December 2014 in Afghanistan, left the Afghan army and police in charge of security in a country plagued by continued fighting, a ferocious insurgency and a rising tide of both military and civilian casualties.
2014 was not only the bloodiest year of the war for Afghanistan's security personnel, but also for its civilians. According to a recent UN report, close to 10,000 civilians have been killed and many more wounded.
Since the beginning of 2015, more than 5,000 local security forces have been killed this year alone, the highest toll since the war began.the international coalition has suffered a total of 3,485 deaths since 2001.
"There is a lot of concern for the rise in civilian casualties," said Hadi Marifat, a Kabul-based analyst with the Centre for Civilians in Conflict. "The more territory the Taliban tries to occupy in the coming years, the more civilian casualties there will be because of military confrontations.
The insurgent attacks have been increased in many parts of the country in 2014, Afghan forces have already been leading the fight in recent months, but at a high price. There is many fear that the exit strategy is 'hollow', and that the future of ordinary Afghans remains in the balance.