Wednesday, October 23, 2019

In Herat, Afghanistan, displaced people are reduced to misery

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ANDREW QUILTY FOR "THE WORLD"

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Posted today at 02h13

From Herat to northeastern Afghanistan, tents and tiny makeshift clay houses draw attention to both sides of the road. These days, the wind is blowing so hard in this province of eastern Afghanistan that the residents of this unofficial IDP camp are forced to add stones to the canvases they use as ceilings for their homes. House.

"Three years ago, the rain fell, says Ahmad Shah Kakari, formerly a farmer. This continued until a year ago. Last year, I did not harvest anything. Zero. " Originally from Bala Murghab, a town in the northeastern province of Badghis, the 43-year-old man left his village in May 2018 for Herat, where he spent a few months in a tent. Finally, because of heavy snowfall last winter, he built a piece of dirt of ten square meters. There are five of them, his wife and their three children.

"I went into debt in my village for the rent of the land, Ahmad Shah Kakari continues. More than 115,000 afghanis (EUR 1 300). How could I go back? " Strictly, he occasionally sends his 9-year-old daughter, Shakila, and his 10-year-old son, Arib, to the rather prosperous town of Herat to do the round. He himself works as a day laborer, if he has the opportunity. "I do everything: construction, agriculture, for 200 afghanis (2.30 euros) per day", He slips.

A woman returning from collecting water at one of the wells of the Shahrak-é Sabz-é unofficial displaced persons camp near Herat, Afghanistan, 21 August.
A woman returning from collecting water at one of the wells of the Shahrak-é Sabz-é unofficial displaced persons camp near Herat, Afghanistan, 21 August. ANDREW QUILTY FOR "THE WORLD"

From 2014 to 2018, four years of insufficient rainfall have undermined agriculture in the Badghis region. Even the opium harvest has dropped by a third in 2018, after a record production in 2017. According to the United Nations, the drought has forced more people to leave their homes in 2018 than the violence that prevails in the country: 275 000 against 223 000. This year, according to the humanitarian organizations active in the region, although the drought has ended, insecurity is preventing 90,000 displaced people living in Herat province from returning home.

Drastic decline in income

The house of Ahmad Shah Kakari's house is located on a lot where fifteen other families live, most of the time very numerous. The latter refuse to settle, like many others, in the new camp Shahrak-é Sabz-é Omid, located a few hundred meters. "We have tribal problems with some people of Shahrak," explains one of the Kakari's neighbors. Bessmelah Sini refers to tribal and ethnic divides in Afghan society that sometimes give rise to quarrels.

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