UN Reportedly Sends Translators Who Can’t Speak Local Language to Investigate Taliban Killings

UN Reportedly Sends Translators Who Can’t Speak Local Language to Investigate Taliban Killings

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Reports of ethnic based violence by the Taliban continue to mount since their takeover of Afghanistan in 2021. One ethnic group in particular, the Hazaras, have often found themselves in the sights of Taliban persecution. 

According to the independent Afghan media outlet Amu TV, the Taliban launched a raid against two Hazara homes on November 24 in the village of Siwak Shibar, Daikundi province, killing at least nine people, including children. Amu TV, citing village residents, reported that the two targeted families had an ongoing land dispute with a man named Gharib Husain, who was said to have ties with the Taliban and accused the families of having links to anti-Taliban resistance movements. The Taliban acknowledged the raids, but claimed it was only targeting “rebels.”

On November 25, UNICEF acknowledged the attack, saying that it was “deeply shocked and saddened.” By November 30, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted that they are “working to establish facts on the recent incident,” adding that “UNAMA has engaged Taliban on the need for credible investigation & accountability.”

On December 3, William Maley, a diplomacy professor at the Australian National university and Afghanistan expert, reported that UNAMA investigators sent to investigate the killings did not speak the local language. He posted to Facebook, saying that “On the Daikundi attack, the latest I’ve heard is that UNAMA sent some people to investigate, but the investigators’ language proficiency was in Pashto, and thus the locals found it very difficult to communicate with them in a meaningful fashion.”

The primary language in Daikundi is Dari, not Pashto.

Maley’s claim was echoed by journalist Kazim Ehsan, who tweeted that “Two sources confirmed @UNAMAnews send few Pashton speakers to investigate Taliban massacre of civilians in Daikundi province. The local had issue communicating with UNAMA staff and also they couldn’t trust since some of them had more sympathy with the Taliban.”

So far UNAMA has not commented on the translator claims.