Kunduz merchants seek compensation after shops destroyed in fighting

By Muhammad Qasem and AFP

Damage to shops in Kunduz city can be seen August 8, one day after the Taliban attacked the city. [Courtesy of Halim Halimi]

Damage to shops in Kunduz city can be seen August 8, one day after the Taliban attacked the city. [Courtesy of Halim Halimi]

KUNDUZ -- Shop owners in Kunduz city in northern Afghanistan are seeking compensation for damage to their shops and the loss of their wares during fighting in August.

They claim at least 22 shops were torched during August 8 fighting in Kunduz, causing tens of thousands of dollars in losses to each shopkeeper.

Enayatullah Kunduzi, who owns a clothing store near the Kunduz roundabout, told Salaam Times that he lost goods worth more than $57,000 in the fire.

"I worked with my son in this shop for 10 years," he said. "But I lost everything in one day. The current government must provide compensation."

Some clothing, fabric and shoe stores, jewelry shops and pharmacies were destroyed.

Pharmacy owner Abdul Hussain Syal said all the medicine he stocked burned up, along with the medical equipment at a doctor's office on the second floor of his building.

"I have lost about 7.5 million AFN ($88,000)," he said.

"Besides my shop, 21 other stores have burned down," he added, urging the Taliban government to follow up on this issue and compensate the shopkeepers.

Unemployment has been increasing day by day since the Taliban took control of the provincial centre, said Kunduz city resident Ahmad Uzair Azizi.

"The shopkeepers have no supplies, and the consumers have no money," he said. "What kind of peace is this? What kind of 'Islamic system' is this that people are about to face famine in just one month?"

Afghans long for a peace that would boost their economic well-being and provide them with employment, he said.

'People don't know what to do'

Hundreds wait for work every day at the main roundabout in Kunduz city, resident Zarghoon Salimi said, in a scene repeated elsewhere, including in Herat.

"Despite the lack of security, unemployment and confusion were not at this level [before]," he said. "Now people don't know what to do and where to go."

"Our youth have fled everywhere, and businesses and the private sector have been destroyed," said Kunduz University student Salahuddin Haqkhwah.

Universities in many parts of the country were almost empty on the first day of the Afghan school year as professors and students wrestled with the Taliban's restrictive new rules segregating students by gender.

Afghans had hoped for peace, Haqkhwah said, but these hopes are turning into disappointment with each passing day.

"The Taliban need to create jobs ... and get the country out of this miserable situation," said Kunduz resident Sayed Mahmoud Jalili.

At least half the population face the possibility of not having employment as the Taliban grapple with how to deal with women in the workforce.

"The Taliban have told us to stay home," one woman who worked in the telecoms ministry of the old regime told AFP.

"There is security, but if there is no food, soon the situation will change."

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The International Community announced that they will donate Afghanistan; however, they did not specify where and how will the provide the assistance to Afghans. If they are giving the money to UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF, it is for sure known that the money will be spent their modern offices, cars and other facilities, because these UN organizations are more corrupt than the Pakistani government is. If we consider Pakistan as a beast, these organizations are beaster than the beast. The best way to deliver these aids to Afghans would be give them subsidy while the are flour, oil, beans, medicines and other basic items. A second option is that, to give the money to the current government to pay the government employees' salaries because the government's money is already confiscated in New York Federal Reserve Bank and it is not possible for the administration to pay the employees' salaries.