Perilous journey: unemployment forces Afghan youth to illegally migrate

By Omar

Despite the dangers of the illegal journey to neighbouring countries, many young Afghans see no option but to leave their country in search of work. Young Afghans gather in Zaranj, capital of Nimroz province, daily and explore ways to illegally migrate to Iran. [Omar/Salaam Times]

NIMROZ -- The main circle in Zaranj, the capital city of Nimroz province, is known as an assembly point where young Afghans gather together daily before they attempt to illegally migrate to Iran.

The youth, which include teenagers and children, come to Nimroz from other provinces to travel to Iran illegally with the help of human traffickers and smugglers.

Although the exact number of Afghans who travel to Iran from Nimroz is unclear, local officials say as many as 1,000 individuals enter the province each day before illegally travelling to Iran.

Unemployment, poverty and fear of an unknown future are driving their migration.

Afghans from different parts of the country await departure to Iran in Zaranj, capital of Nimroz province, on February 20 in hopes of finding employment. [Omar/Salaam Times]

Afghans from different parts of the country await departure to Iran in Zaranj, capital of Nimroz province, on February 20 in hopes of finding employment. [Omar/Salaam Times]

Nabiullah, 23, a Kunduz resident who travelled to Zaranj on February 20, told Salaam Times that he has decided to illegally travel to Iran with his friends.

He said migration is the only viable option for him and his young friends.

"There is no work in Afghanistan, and economic problems are continuously increasing. I must go to Iran to work and earn a living for my family. Our economic problems are great, and I have no choice but to leave the country."

"I used to work in a hotel with 15 other young people. The hotel business has slowed down amid the economic crisis, and 13 of us were terminated," he said.

Nabiullah acknowledged that he could die on the way to Iran but added that he had to take the risk to escape unemployment and economic hardship.

Nisar Ahmad, 15, a resident of Guzara district, Herat province, told Salaam Times on February 20 that he has been searching in Zaranj city for someone to take his group to Iran.

"This is the first time I am going to Iran through an illegal route. I am terrified, and I do not have a relative accompanying me on the trip. I don't know if I will reach Iran alive," he said.

"My father is a farmer. We did not have a good harvest this year because of drought. We did not earn enough and plunged into poverty. My father decided to send me to Iran," he added.

Lost aspirations

Many of the young Afghans who have decided to abandon their country are educated.

Aimal Pasarlai, 21, is one of them.

Pasarlai is from Nangarhar and graduated from Nangarhar University's School of Science two years ago but has since been unable to find a job.

"There are no job opportunities for young and educated Afghans," he said. "I devoted my entire life to completing my studies, but I was left with no choice [but to migrate to Iran]."

"I hope I can safely reach Iran via the illegal route and earn a living to support my family," said Pasarlai.

He said many educated young Afghans have no choice but to leave the country and travel to neighbouring countries via illegal routes.

Maruf, 22, a resident of Qarabagh district, Kabul province, graduated from Kabul University three years ago. He lives in a hotel in Zaranj city, and said he has been preparing to illegally migrate to Iran.

Maruf said on February 19 that he had tried his very best to find a job but is now forced to abandon his home and country.

"I want to go to Iran and from there to Türkiye. The trip is very dangerous, and I am not sure I can make it to my final destination," he added.

"I used to work in a construction company, but it closed because of the economic crisis. It has been a year and a half since I lost my job. I have no other choice but to migrate and find work to earn a living and support my family," Maruf explained.

He said it was not an easy decision to leave his home country and that he does not like to be apart from his family. However, unemployment and uncertainty have forced him to migrate via treacherous routes.

Dangerous journey

The route taken by human traffickers into Iran crosses through difficult and perilous terrain.

From Nimroz, they first enter Balochistan province, Pakistan, and then enter Iran on foot through the mountains. The roads are dangerous and frequented by armed robbers, and, in some cases, patrolled by Iranian soldiers.

The route human smugglers take to Iran is mountainous and death is always lurking for travellers, said Mohammad Nabi, 23, a resident of Moqor district, Ghazni province, who himself undertook the journey starting February 20.

"Human traffickers take huge amounts of money from us, but our lives are worth nothing to them. They load 20 to 25 people in a Toyota and drive at high speed in the plains and mountainous areas," he said.

"When we arrive in Pakistan, we have to walk 24 hours through the mountains to enter Iran. There is no water or bread, and some children and elderly people who fall behind the caravan could lose their lives," said Nabi.

Afghan youths have been forced to take the deadly journey by unemployment and uncertainty about the future, he said.

Sayed Ahmad Hosseini, 26, a resident of Shindand district, Herat province, spoke in Nimroz province as he prepared for a second attempt in a year to reach Iran.

On his first trip, he managed to reach Kerman, a city in Iran.

After he worked in Iran for four months, the Iranian police detained and deported him.

Once again, he has decided to travel to Iran illegally to escape unemployment.

"I am aware of the dangers of traveling illegally and the possibility of death at any moment, but I have no choice. It is better to die once than to be tortured ... every second because of poverty and unemployment," he said.

"I go to Iran out of despair and desperation. The Afghan economy is shattered, and one cannot find a job here. When there are no job opportunities, young people are forced to migrate to neighbouring countries."

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It is very painful for a person to leave his dear country, dear parents, children and wife heartbroken due to unemployment and go to European countries through deadly smuggling routes. May God have mercy on Afghans. Afghan youths have to leave everything and work in foreign countries to save their families from begging. Many young people lost their lives on these smuggling routes while their bodies were found and eaten by wolves. All this has happened to us due to wars and lack of organized system and this is going on.


It is true that useless people [human traffickers] force people to leave their dear homeland and travel to foreign countries on very difficult and deadly ways. Going through these impassable roads means death, but people need to tolerate death because their children would starve. On these smuggling routes, especially the way of Iran and Turkey, the people and their police are oppressing so much that are unique. Beating, imprisonment, theft of money and cell phones, kidnapping and other similar crimes that are committed against the poor people of Afghanistan occur there. In addition, similar crimes are committed in Italy too. There is no law in the world to ask why?


Illegal ways are hazardous. It is playing with death. Many young people left our village due to unemployment. They left the village knowing full well that the roads were dangerous and deadly. The Iranian and Turkish forces mistreat them at the border. There are beatings, kicking, and even throwing in the streets, but still, the young people say either complete or die. They say if we stay in the homeland, what should we do? Living requires money, money is in work, and there is no work. We hope the international community will not leave the Afghans alone in this dire situation.


Poverty is increasing day by day in Afghanistan. Afghan youths who leave their homeland are forced to leave Afghanistan for several reasons. The current Afghan government does not care about the fate of millions of young people. Universities, which always started on the 15th of Pisces in the past years, now that the date is the 9th of Pisces, there is no news about the start of the universities. In public schools, the lessons were not correct in the past years, nor are they currently being taught. There are no teachers to teach their students. The main factors that make the youth and children leave Afghanistan is unemployment, which means that there is no work for a young person to earn at least a meal for his family. In Afghanistan, in every wedding party, the Fatiha reading party, or in a gathering where several people have gathered, people are talking about the topic that I sent one of my sons abroad, or my nephew went abroad, or one of our relatives went abroad. All young people, whether they have money or not, are thinking about when they will leave Afghanistan. One thing that has allowed our youth to leave their homeland is that from a family where one person lives in a European country or in a foreign country, the other members of the family have a more comfortable life and they do not face economic problems, but those who work inside Afghanistan, if there are more or less than 5 people in a family, they face economic problems, that's why our young people leave Afghanis


Most parts of Iran historically belong to Great Afghanistan. Shah Hussain Hotak ruled Greater Afghanistan until Isfahan. Our people who go there should not be known as illegal immigrants. On the one hand, Pakistan has occupied our territory, and on the other hand, Iran has occupied the territory of Afghanistan. Despite that, these two hypocritical neighbors have occupied our lands; they are still interfering in Afghanistan and creating problems for Afghans. During the past 21 years, the Iranian regime has interrupted politically, culturally, and armed in Afghanistan. Pakistan's discussion is very different because it has been promoting jihadist projects in Afghanistan under the name of Islam for four and a half decades. I request the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan to immediately attack Iran if the Iranian armed forces misbehave with Afghans again. Our homeland is still in ruins, and these neighbors have destroyed it. The areas and properties under the control of Iran's dictatorial regime should be handed over to Afghans.


February 28 is the day that is celebrated every year in Afghanistan in the name of Soldier's Day. The bravery of the soldiers and the defense of the country were praised. The national flag and its protection from the people were honored. Bouquets were given to them in their hands. Ordinary people used to go to their strongholds and spend a few moments with them happily. In one way or another, the soldier was given the satisfaction that he was the primary protector of the interests of this land and the nation, and he used to pay more attention to his responsibility. The soldiers were also happy. It wasn't a material privilege, though, but on this day, this day was celebrated only morally, but in previous years, this day was like celebrating Eid. Military parades were held in cities, and special programs were held, but today, those soldiers are sitting at home without hope. There is no work to do. Prints of months of intense military exercises are still seen on their body. Indeed, those who are busy with work or drive a taxi, sell onions and potatoes in the market, or work to make money from morning to evening for AFN 200 or AFN 300, and those who have even a little income are smuggled to Europe and Some of them have turned to other countries that rarely reached their destination, some were lost in the seas, some were left halfway by smugglers, some are fighting for Russia in Ukraine, and some are fighting against Russia to defend Ukraine. The army became a victim of a political


The worrying thing is that in 2022, nearly 330,000 people irregularly migrated to European countries, and many of them were Afghans. This is because it is a matter of concern that so many people are unfamiliar with people of another geography, have different religions and faith, different culture and traditions, different living and food, and also different clothing style. If they are not compatible with each other, problems will inevitably arise. For years, the war in Afghanistan was fought by foreign donors. They gave money to the Taliban, and they also gave money to the Afghan army to kill each other, which unfortunately happened and is still happening. Previously, the Taliban were causing disorder, and the Afghan military was forced to stop it, which confused society. Finally, wars were breaking down, the main reason for which was foreign intelligence interference. Now that the Taliban want to take revenge on the former soldiers, most of the Afghan army, whose number reached 300,000, are trying to go abroad, and if they stay here, the Taliban will torture them in one way or another. And when those fleeing from torture go to Europe and other countries to seek asylum, there will inevitably be chaos. For this reason, the countries whose number is more than 40 have come to Afghanistan, so now please reach an understanding with the Taliban to end the killing of Afghans and to prevent migration and the projects whose works were delayed because of security issues; now the donors