Fear of Shadows; a joke that is now the truth
Editorial by Abdul Ahad Poya, Edited by Mohammad J. Alizada and Brian J. Conley
The atmosphere of Afghanistan; especially Kabul, the capital city with a population of six million, resembles its smoky weather: poisonous and tormenting. These days Kabul has once again become one of the most polluted capitals in the world due to the high consumption of heating materials like wood and coal by families, apartment complexes and the companies. Lack of security, targeted assassinations of journalists, activists, and influential individuals, as well as unemployment and poverty has made the living situation for Kabul citizens poisonous and unbearable.
Hopelessness, doubts about their future, and an increase in day to day stress have crippled everyone and we can now call Kabul “the most hopeless” capital of the world, as well as the most polluted.
The capital, whose people are so desperate due to poverty that they have no other choice but to sell their daughters for a small amount of money or hang themselves. All of the following individuals; a teacher, a journalist, a farmer, ended their lives due to poverty, unemployment, fear of drought and their family having nothing to eat.
Eight children died due to hunger in Dasht-e Barchi area of Kabul not long ago. Following that, a teacher in Arzan Qemat area hung himself as a result of being unable to provide for his family after not getting paid for months. In the most recent case, Mohammad Haroon Nairumand, a former technician for the Senate TV station, killed himself due to stress and the issues mentioned above. Selling one’s female children has become a new method of combat against poverty and hunger which has increased throughout Afghanistan recently.
Following the collapse of Kabul and approaching 100 days of Taliban rule, fleeing Afghanistan, either by legal or illegal means, has increased daily. Whether alone or with family, many people are fighting to escape their country. A large number of the youth are leaving to Iran, a neighboring country that welcomes Afghan refugees with bullets to the chest. A number of others are heading towards Turkey, EU nations or the United States.
Any country they can get to other than Afghanistan.
These days Kabul resembles a jungle. A jungle filled with wild and predatory animals. People are scared of their own shadows. My ears have heard stories that even the bravest youth cannot travel outside in daylight due to the fear of being killed. On occasion, individuals have been so exhausted by their situation, or perhaps by their shadow that they have ended their lives.
It’s been more than four months since former government employees were last paid. This negatively affects the psychological situation of a large number of families. Although the Taliban have made numerous promises to pay government staff in different sectors; there is not yet any news of when that will happen. This is while the Taliban have announced that they are suspending the payment of salaries for most government employees for an unknown period of time.
Lack of personal safety and job security, extreme poverty, and an uncertain future have combined to push Afghans to take the risk of seeking refuge elsewhere, which can be extremely dangerous as well. The chance to leave Afghanistan is now considered a golden opportunity. Although leaving your country, your place of birth, your relatives and loved ones is painful, anyone who is able to leave Afghanistan is considered “lucky”.
Those who cannot get out of the country must sell their belongings just to afford a bite to eat for a few days. Those who obtained a little wealth in the past have their funds tied up in banks and are not able to take enough money out to be able to keep their family fed.
The promise of humanitarian aid is so far only words, the evacuation of at-risk civilians remains on pause, without action, schools are closed for students, especially girls, and high levels of unemployment has become an untreatable cancer that has taken hold of everyone.
Despite all of this, the international community has decided to stay silent to the plight of these “unlucky” people.