UN assistance helps improve the lives of poor and starving Afghans

By Omar

Nearly 1,000 families in Herat province received 47,700 AFN ($530) in cash assistance on February 8 and are now able to pay for essentials such as rent, food and fuel. [Omar/Salaam Times]

HERAT -- On a cold morning last week, Sahar Gul Rasuli, 45, came to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Herat city to receive assistance.

She is the only breadwinner of her 11-member household. She works doing housekeeping and cleaning for her neighbours, but her income is far less than her household's expenses.

Rasuli's husband is blind, and her 25-year-old son, a labourer, was killed during fighting in Herat city a year and a half ago.

"My son was the breadwinner of our household," she said. "I have to take care of his wife and three children following his death. Now I have to work to make a living for my son's family and my blind husband."

Sahar Gul Rasuli, 45, receives cash assistance from a UNHCR employee February 8 in Herat city. [Omar/Salaam Times]

Sahar Gul Rasuli, 45, receives cash assistance from a UNHCR employee February 8 in Herat city. [Omar/Salaam Times]

Rasuli previously worked as a cleaner in a private hospital in Herat city, earning about 4,000 AFN ($44) monthly. She lost her job two months ago after the ban on women working outside the home caught up to her.

"A doctor hired me to work in his house after I lost my job at the hospital. But he went abroad with his family, and I was unemployed again," she said. "I wash clothes at my neighbours' houses three to four days a week, and each one of them gives about 100-200 AFN [$1-2]."

Rasuli and her extended family live in an old mud house in the southern part of Herat city. She pays 2,000 AFN ($22) in monthly rent.

She does not have coal or wood to heat her house, or food for her children and grandchildren.

After she visited the UNHCR office, the agency provided Rasuli with 47,700 AFN ($5,300) cash assistance.

"The assistance has saved our lives," she said. "It is enough to cover my family's expenses for three to four months."

"My four-year-old grandson has pneumonia, and I did not have money for his treatment. Now that I received the cash assistance, I can take him to a doctor," she added.

Saving lives

Rasuli's family is one of 999 in Herat province who received the cash assistance from the UNHCR on February 8.

Most of the recipients are from conflict-affected districts of Herat, such as Shindand and Keshk Kuhna.

Akhtar Mohammad, 62, a farmer in the Zer-e-Koh area of Shindand district, said he was in dire need of the cash assistance to support his 16-member family.

Mohammad, the breadwinner of his family, said he was unable to earn any income from his harvests this year because of drought.

"The assistance provided by the UN has saved us from poverty and hunger during these difficult times," he said. "Such assistance is the only hope for our poor people, and it rescues our children from imminent death due to hunger."

"I will use the money I received today to buy food and fuel for my family," Mohammad said. "There is no proper food in our house, and we often eat only bread with tea at night."

Zar Bibi, 59, a resident of Shindand district, said the cash assistance from UNHCR will cover the needs of her six-member household for up to six months.

"My elderly husband is a farmer. Our agricultural yields were not good this year because of drought," she said. "We are very poor, and if the UN did not assist, we would have been ... at risk of starvation."

"I am suffering from asthma," she added. "I did not have money to treat myself. Now that I received the cash assistance, I will go to a doctor for treatment."

Helping war victims

The recent cash assistance provided by UNHCR was also allocated to survivors of the war.

Zainab, 48, a resident of Zawal district, Herat province, said her husband, a National Police officer, was killed in fighting four years ago.

Now she has to take care of her four children alone.

Zainab said her three daughters had been earning a living tailoring clothes, but they are now jobless because demand for new clothes has been nonexistent during the past year and a half.

Her son is the youngest of the four children.

"My husband had an income, and our life was very good," she said. "But our life has become miserable following my husband's martyrdom. I used to receive compensation for my martyred husband from the Department of Labour and Social Affairs until a year and a half ago, but it stopped."

"It has been almost a year that we have been solely relying on the assistance provided by relief organisations," she said.

"We have become very dependent on humanitarian assistance, and if it had not been provided, we could have hardly survived and might have been forced to beg."

The international community's humanitarian assistance has saved her children from starvation and even death, she said.

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In the last week, $120 million have come to Afghanistan, but most of this aid goes to the pockets of the Taliban or perhaps used for training terrorist groups. First, the Taliban were terrorists for the United States, but now other groups will come out, and the 40 million dollar package that the United States is sending may also be used to train terrorists. And you have published a report in the name of humanitarian aid; it cannot even be 0.5 percent at the level of a province. This aid also reaches the hands of those who either have a good recommendation in the Taliban or those who are not very worthy of aid. This aid cannot be used to help the people.


In short, the country was devastated and has become even more devastated in the last year and a half. On the one hand, the Taliban regularly announce that their revenues from customs, municipalities, and other sources have increased several times compared to the past. On the other hand, about $40 million in foreign aid comes to the country every week, but when we read and watch the media reports, it seems as if the whole country has returned to the 16th century. There is no education, no higher education, no ID card, no passport, no embassies, no diplomatic relations... and no other services. Everything is washed away in the river. Our misfortune started when Daud Khan launched a Coup d'État against Zahir Shah and overthrew a well-ordered governing system. Another misfortune happened when on one side, the Communists trained by the Soviet Union staged a Coup d'État. On the other side, the British/Pakistani trained Ikhwanis [Muslim Brotherhood members] fled to Pakistan and, from there, brought weapons to destroy their homeland. Another misfortune happened when Najib's government was overthrown, and Brotherhood organizations destroyed Kabul city. After that, another misfortune began in 2001 as the Western forces unexpectedly attacked Afghanistan. Although the reason the western forces was that they came to arrest the Arab leader, and therefore they bombed the villages and houses of Afghanistan, when the Arab leader was recovered in Pakistan, they did not punish Pakistan until tod


The United Nations in cooperation with UNHCR begin a new programs for the poor families and provide them with cash assistance of AFN 47,700. It is a good thing which makes the future of these families bright. According to this report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has provided the aid to the poor people, and that all of the aid's recipients were people who would find it difficult to provide their families with food. If it were not for the humanitarian aid of the United Nations, the poor people of Afghanistan would have faced many difficulties. Many families who do not have a chance to work or do not have a guardian or those who are old, they will spend their daily lives with the help of the United Nations. The level of unemployment in Afghanistan is increasing day by day and the people of Afghanistan are facing serious economic problems. The poor people of Afghanistan will suffer from mental illnesses if they would not find enough food for their families due to lack of work. When people of Afghanistan are walking on the streets of the city, they speak unintentionally, and most of them speak loudly with themselves on the way. This humanitarian aid of the United Nations can bring profound changes in the daily life of Afghans. As long as the current government of Afghanistan is not be recognized by the countries of the world, the people of Afghanistan will need the humanitarian aid of the United Nations more and other agencies.