Poverty, lack of opportunities drive illegal immigration in Badakhshan

By Muhammad Qasem

Laborers wait to find work April 10 in the Badakhshan provincial capital of Faizabad. [Hakim Saiedi]

Laborers wait to find work April 10 in the Badakhshan provincial capital of Faizabad. [Hakim Saiedi]

BADAKHSHAN -- Poverty and a dearth of opportunities for young people in Badakhshan have led to an increase in illegal immigration to Iran and Türkiye, residents and elders in Afghanistan's northernmost province said.

But Afghan youth hopeful of finding better opportunities often fare no better abroad, where some have faced harassment and other forms of abuse.

Poverty, unemployment, hopelessness and lack of support are among the reasons young Afghans are opting to leave, said Ashkasham district resident Naik Muhammad Hussaini, 35.

Many who opt to stay suffer from psychological issues or fall prey to drug use.

"In the past two years, from our district alone, more than 500 people fled to Iran, Pakistan and Türkiye, and some of them even moved their families with them too," he said.

Faced with a heavy influx of illegal immigrants, authorities in Iran and Türkiye have arrested, harassed and even tortured Afghan youth before deporting them, he said.

If employment opportunities were readily available in Afghanistan, Hussaini noted, these young Afghans would not need to put themselves in harm’s way by resorting to illegal immigration to find work.

"Most of these youth are educated, with degrees from well-known universities, but because of their desperate situation, they have to accept hard labor and tolerate painful conditions in the neighbouring countries," he said.

Many of those deported from Iran and Türkiye suffer from psychological distress, said Faizabad city resident Abdul Sattar Naibi, 28.

"Every day, one or two young people try to commit suicide in Badakshan because of poverty, unemployment and hopelessness," he said.

"If the young don't see a future in the country, are not given a chance to serve in the government and cannot find jobs, the number of [them] committing suicide and fleeing from the country will only increase."

"Another segment of our young population has resorted to using narcotics because of unemployment," Naibi said. "When they can't get drugs, they try to steal and commit other crimes."

Difficult conditions in Iran

Faced with insecurity and poverty at home, tens of thousands of Afghans have headed to Iran over the past two years -- among them Faizabad resident Marouf Rezaee, 38, and five of his relatives.

Rezaee and his relatives illegally crossed into Iran in June 2022, he told Salaam Times, but an armed group detained them and put them in a private prison.

"Armed individuals beat us up in the prison ... and they asked for ransom from our families," he said. "They had taken our phones, and they would record videos of our torture on our phone and send them to our families."

The armed group had demanded between $4,000 and $5,000 per person in ransom money, Rezaee said, but after several days, the group was released in exchange for $2,000.

Afghan immigrants in Iran face many dangers, said Faizabad resident Ali Asghar.

When Afghan immigrant workers leave their workplaces, they often are targeted -- by robbers, armed elements and even police -- who exploit their illegal status to extort money from them, the 34-year-old said.

"Armed individuals captured us on June 29 and took us to a house where we also saw a number of other young prisoners," Asghar said.

"We stayed in the prison for 13 days, and one person's leg and another's hand were broken from the torture, because their family didn't have money ... for their release."

Asghar said his brother sent $500 through a currency exchanger for his release.

"They tortured prisoners with a gun barrel and whip and recorded the videos [of their beatings], telling them not to come to Iran ever again," he said.

Job creation critical

Afghan youth are grappling with poverty, joblessness, economic issues, violence and insecurity, said political affairs analyst Sayed Yaseen Nizami, a Badakhshan native who lives in Kabul.

"In recent years, it's unfortunate that thousands of our young people fled the country, and thousands of others became addicted to drugs because of these issues," he told Salaam Times.

"When they need money, they resort to killing, kidnapping, prostitution and other crimes."

"Badakhshan province has more than 520 types of medicinal plants, 105 types of precious stones and hundreds of touristic sites," Nizami pointed out.

If these sites and natural resources are properly developed, he said, they could create "employment opportunities that can help the Afghan people, especially youth in this province, to get rid of all these issues".

The Department of Culture and Information in Badakhshan province is taking illegal immigration and drug addiction seriously, said department director Muezuddin Ahmadi.

The department is making every effort to identify the underlying causes, he said.

"In order to address the problems of the young generation, we have created associations at the district level, through which we have involved young [Afghans] in decisions taken in the district government entities," Ahmadi said.

"This year, the largest gold mines in Ragh and Shahr-e-Buzarg districts of Badakshan have been contracted out," he said. "We try to create jobs for our young [residents] through this sector as well."

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The people of Afghanistan have faced severe poverty and hunger. There is no work in Afghanistan. All young people are left unemployed and forced to immigrate illegally, where they face severe problems and the situation is not good. Afghans became poor and do not know what will happen to their future? Their dreams are not fulfilled. Life in Afghanistan has become very difficult. With respects, Lima


In Afghanistan, unemployment and poverty have reached the peak, all the youths have remained unemployed, and a bite of bread at home has educated the Afghan youth up to the level of professors, but the example of the illiterate has remained unemployed, and the illiterate have remained poor. This is why everyone is forced to leave the country and go to other countries, or to Iran or to Pakistan, because the situation is not good there, so may God have mercy on the situation of Afghans.


The level of poverty has increased and is increasing day by day. People don't own businesses. There is no bread. The economy is at a standstill. Before, there was a passion for sound and learning in the youth, but now the young generation is broken. He is not interested in education. Tomorrow, two or three people meet and discuss going to foreign countries. Those are the ways that result in death. The youth in Afghanistan have nothing to look forward to. It's all hopeless. Afghanistan has become a hell for the child...


Indeed, unemployment and poverty have increased so much in the country today that it has created many problems for the people. The Taliban government has not only failed to create jobs for the people; on the contrary, they are dismissing the old government officials and harassing them under one or another pretext. Appoint people you like. People must smuggle themselves to Europe and other western countries to win the war. I know hundreds of people who sold their wives' jewelry to send their children, then sold their houses to them so that a family member could work for them in a foreign country and support them. I also know such independent women who have blocked all other ways. He has turned a blind eye to all of this because! Mulla Sahib is rewarded for everything, even if people die because of him or if wolves or fish eat them in the oceans. Believe me! There is no faith in Wasni Talib and Mullah or Islam or Afghanism! How do you call yourself the inheritor of the Prophet, that every minister and leader of yours takes millions of Afghans in the name of dinner and drives around in bullet-proof cars? You have used corruption. Still, millions of Afghans are dying because of poverty and unemployment or in foreign countries. You run away, commit suicide, or try to steal your honor! Let me know. The day of reckoning is coming, Mullah Sahib; there is a question of the good and evil of a thousand. To the presence of God