In addition to the unspeakably brutal war that Putin is waging against Ukraine, there are numerous other countries in 2022 where military conflicts or wars are being fought – and millions of people are being turned into refugees. In Bangladesh, Somalia, Syria or Burkina Faso, people are forced to leave their homes because of this. Also in Afghanistan. Since the withdrawal of US and NATO troops in the summer of 2021 and the resulting takeover of power by the Taliban, fear and insecurity rule the country. The already insecure food situation has increased further. The security situation is rapidly deteriorating, making it difficult to provide for vulnerable populations. Women, children and the elderly suffer the most from hunger. In addition, there is an increase in gender-based violence. Those who can, flee. According to UNHCR, hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees are still migrating to neighboring countries. To date, millions of people have fled to Iran and Pakistan. Inofficial numbers say, 3 million Afghans live in Pakistan. Official numbers call it 1,4 millions.
Beginnings in Pakistan
In order to support the Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Solidar Suisse 2022 has started a new project and is working together with the local organisation SPADO – Sustainable Peace and Development Organisation. In the two refugee settlements Nasir Bagh and Taj Abad in Peshawar we are providing assistance so that basic needs of the refugees from Afghanistan are met. During a visit by Solidar Suisse, the plight of the refugees in Peshawar left one speechless. When you turn off the main road into the slum areas of Nasir Bagh, you can feel the misery, poverty and deprivation in the settlement. Everywhere you see the mud houses and makeshift dwellings made of schrott, rubble and cloth. Children walk the streets without shoes. They have no opportunity for schooling, child labour is common in the refugee communities. People do not have the means to feed their families, nor do they have any means to make a living.
Afghan refugees have been living in such settlements for more than 40 years in some cases – since the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. Ameenullah Z.* and Dil Jan F.* are two of the millions of Afghans who have fled to Peshawar. They told us their story.