HERAT -- As the economic crisis deepens and unemployment rises across Afghanistan, thousands of Afghans are fleeing using legal or illegal routes to neighbouring countries, including Iran.
The country's economy has plummeted in the past seven months.
The majority of fleeing Afghans travel illegally, using human smugglers, and most are traced and detained by the Iranian military before reaching their destination. It sends detainees back to Afghanistan.
That was the fate of Mohammad Ismail Jahanzai, 25, from Laghman province, who resides at a United Nations (UN) refugee camp in Herat city.
"Unemployment gave me no other option but to go to Iran to find work and earn a living for my family," he said. "However, we are not safe anywhere. In Iran, the police are everywhere, and they look for Afghan workers and arrest and deport them."
"I wish job opportunities were available in our country. If I could have made even just 100 AFN [$1.14] a day, I would have never decided to go to a foreign country," he said.
Afghan refugees are treated with great disrespect in Iran, and their belongings occasionally have been looted by the Iranian police, he said. They are deprived of their basic human rights, he said.
Amir Khan Ahmadzai, 20, a resident of Logar, who was recently deported from Iran and now also resides at the UN refugee camp in Herat city, said nobody willingly leaves Afghanistan, but poverty and destitution force many to travel to neighbouring countries in search of employment.
Afghans are facing severe economic challenges, he said, and have to find ways to rescue themselves from "inevitable death".
"I left my family and went to Iran to find a loaf of bread for them, but the Iranian police arrested and deported me," he said.
No means to help starving citizens
Ahmad Hussaini, 40, a resident of Lal Sar Jangal district, Ghor province, also tried his luck finding work in Iran but Iranian authorities deported him before he reached his destination.
"I have four children whom I left behind and went to Iran to find a job," he said. "It was not an easy decision to abandon my children and family, but I had no other choice."
Living in Afghanistan has become very difficult under the current circumstances, he said. Even if someone faces starvation, nobody has the means to help him or her.
With no other options, many Afghans risk their lives and choose extremely dangerous routes to travel to Iran, hoping to find a job, he said.
Nasimullah, 18, a resident of Kabul, who lives at the UN refugee camp in Herat city, said his father was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul a few years ago, and he is now the sole breadwinner of his six-member family.
He said he managed to reach Yazd city in Iran through illegal routes after a dangerous 10-day journey, but the Iranians caught him and deported him to Afghanistan.
Nasimullah said he was aware of potential consequences when he decided to leave for Iran to save his family from starvation.
"The situation is deteriorating here in Afghanistan. People have lost hope, and we do not know what to do. If I can find a job here, I will never leave my country."
Deepening economic crisis
Almost seven months after the fall of the previous government, unemployment and poverty are on the rise.
Infrastructure projects and new investments have been halted across Afghanistan, and there is no hope they will resume in the foreseeable future.
Thousands of former government employees have been dismissed from work, while women face severe restrictions on employment.
Kabul has made no efforts to address the country's economic crisis in the past seven months, said Mohammad Yaqub Mashouf, an economist in Herat city.
If Afghanistan's rulers do not manage the situation immediately and if urgent aid does not reach vulnerable households, the economic crisis will worsen, and millions of lives will be at stake, he said.
"Afghanistan may not be able to recover from the past several months of economic crisis in several years to come," he said. "Those who hope that the economic problems in the country will be solved soon are mistaken."
"Afghanistan's economy was dependent on the international community's assistance. Now that the aid has been reduced or cut, the country's economic system has collapsed."
"Finding any alternative to the international community's support is not possible under these circumstances," Mashaof said.
The Taliban commit different crimes every day. Does not make relations with the international community. It is an irrational, illiterate, mercenary, and corrupt group that will never benefit Afghans. They will remain poor and will humiliate others. People's economic problems are increasing day by day, but they don't care about them. People don't have access to health care. They say we made the Corona disappear at gunpoint. People want education; they say we will make you a new dress code in the light of Islamic law. People want to progress; they encourage them to retreat. People want food; they say scream to God. People want jobs, they hire incompetent people who benefit others. In general, the Taliban do not want what Afghans want, and thus they humiliate the people. People get into trouble. The Taliban is only a harmful thing that harms society and implements the agendas of foreigners. Today, March 23, 2022, is the first day of the school year in Afghanistan, but the Taliban forced the girls to return home from the school gates. They say the conditions are not practical and technical problems because we have sent the girls back to their homes. Their Ministry of Education (MoE) said that the reason for not opening girls' schools was that no uniforms had been made for female students in line with Sharia, Afghan tradition, and culture. So why would Afghans not get destroyed?Reply
The situation that Afghans have reached is a crime. They did not commit the crime; it was committed against them. Who committed the crime? The Taliban are committing this crime because they are not aligned with the international community for which the people are facing an economic crisis. This crime was committed in part by the previous government. It did not create any sustainable jobs, and people are now wondering what to do. This crime was committed by the Western coalition, which launched a brutal invasion of Afghanistan. During its invasion, it killed tens of thousands of Afghans, maimed and disabled tens of thousands more, did not build any projects, did not build factories, did not provide jobs to the people. I read about two years ago on this same Salam Times that the Red Cross had given artificial limbs and hands to 7,000 people in Helmand province alone in one year. Pakistan and Iran are behind all these crimes. Pakistan has been fighting in Afghanistan for the last 43 years and Iran for the last 40 years under the name of Islam, killing Afghans and destroying their facilities.Reply
When it comes to Afghans, they are not safe from poverty, get malnourished, forced to beg, and their modesty and dignity are harmed, and if they go to other countries, they are treated inhumanely, and they are not let live a few days quietly. If you travel worldwide, you will not find insignificant and insidious neighbors like Afghanistan has. According to reports, it has not been a month since the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Still, it is estimated that 70,000 Ukrainian children have been enrolled in Polish schools and are beginning their education. But Afghanistan's two neighbors, who also call themselves Muslims, have no concern for an Afghan child, a woman, an older man, or a young man. For the last 40 years in Pakistan and Iran, our Afghan children have not been let attend public schools. Those allowed are given training in suicide bombing and intelligence activities and then sent to their homeland to destroy it.Reply