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Afghani people are Refugees in their own homes, thanks to Civil War and Taliban

Afghans already form one of the world’s largest refugee populations, with an estimated 2.6 million of them living in neighboring Pakistan and Iran

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A refugee camp, Wikimedia commons
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ISLAMABAD- The number of Afghans who have fled violence and remain trapped in their own country has doubled over the past three years, says a new report by Amnesty International.

A staggering 1.2 million people are internally displaced in Afghanistan, showing a dramatic increase from some 500,000 in 2013, says the report in an attempt to cast a fresh light on the country’s forgotten victims of war. It comes amid fears of an escalation in the Taliban-led insurgent attacks this year.

“Even after fleeing their homes to seek safety, increasing numbers of Afghans are languishing in appalling conditions in their own country, and fighting for their survival with no end in sight,” warned Amnesty’s South Asia Director Champa Patel.

https://youtu.be/EETwbQtVKFU

 

Afghans already form one of the world’s largest refugee populations, with an estimated 2.6 million of them living in neighboring Pakistan and Iran, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

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“While the world’s attention seems to have moved on from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the plight of those left behind by the conflict,” said Patel.

Despite the promises made by successive Afghan governments, internally displaced people (IDPs) in Afghanistan continue to lack adequate shelter, food, water, health care, and opportunities to pursue education and employment, according to Amnesty International’s findings.

Number of Refugee from Afghanistan are increasing, Wikimedia commons
The number of Refugee from Afghanistan are increasing, Wikimedia commons

The research found the situation facing IDPs has dramatically worsened over the past years, with less aid and essentials, such as food.It blamed alleged corruption, a lack of capacity in the Afghan government and fading international interest for a lack of implementation of a new national IDP Policy launched in 2014.

Instead, the report says, forced evictions by both the government and private sectors is a daily threat to the IDPs.“The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, charged with coordinating the Policy’s implementation, is badly under-resourced and has been beset by corruption allegations for years,” it added.

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Most of the internally displaced population lacks basic health care facilities, and education for IDP children has been interrupted since they were forced to leave their homes.

“They have lost the traditional sources of their livelihoods, and only have a few opportunities for informal work, creating circumstances where women are excluded, and children are being exploited and not educated,” said Patel.

Amnesty International has called on the Afghan authorities and the international community to immediately ensure that the most urgent needs of those displaced are met.“Afghanistan and the world must act now to end the country’s displacement crisis before it is too late,” Patel warned.The Afghan government has not yet commented on Amnesty’s report.(VOA)

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  • Pritam Go Green

    World superpowers along with the United Nations should take a look o this issue. Our Afghani brothers and sisters are suffering a lot. We need to help them asap.

  • devika todi

    this is an issue that requires urgent attention of the organisations who contribute in eradicating it.

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Afghan Orchestra Flourishes Despite Social Issues

Afghanistan and Pakistan have experienced years of terrorist attacks, including massive casualties on both sides of their long shared border.

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Afghanistan
Negin Khpolwak, leader of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, practices on a piano at Afghanistan's National Institute of Music, in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

The consequences of Afghanistan’s increasingly deadly war are weighing heaviest on the nation’s civilians, with women bearing the brunt of the violence. The Taliban banned music and girls education, and restricted outdoor activities of women when the group was controlling most of Afghanistan.

But violence and social pressures have not deterred members of the country’s nascent orchestra of mostly young girls from using music to “heal wounds” and promote women’s rights in the strictly conservative Muslim society.

The ensemble, known as Zohra, was founded in 2014 as part of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in Kabul, where suicide bombings lately have become routine.

Hope and music

Students and trainers are not losing hope and regularly come to the city’s only institute to rehearse and learn new lessons, says Ahmed Naser Sarmast, the director of ANIM and the founder of the orchestra. Zohra is the name of a music goddess in Persian literature, he explained.

The musicologist spoke to VOA while visiting neighboring Pakistan earlier this month with the young ensemble to perform in Islamabad as part of celebrations marking the 99th anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence Day. Kabul’s embassy in Islamabad organized and arranged for the orchestra’s first visit to Pakistan.

Despite the many challenges in Afghanistan, Sarmast said, student enrollment has consistently grown and more parents are bringing their children to the institute to study music. Around 300 students are studying not only music at the institute but other subjects, including the Quran, he said.

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Members of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, attend a rehearsal at Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music, in Kabul. VOA

Advances for women

Negin Khpolwak, the orchestra’s first woman conductor, says Afghanistan has made significant advances in terms of promoting women’s rights in the past 17 years. She says there is a need to sustain the momentum irrespective of rising violence.

“We need to stand up to protect those gains and we need to open the doors for other Afghan girls,” Khpolwak said when asked whether deadly attacks around the country are reversing the gains women have made.

But violence alone is not the only challenge for women and girls, especially those who want to study music, she said.

“When you are going in the street with your instrument to the school and they are saying bad words to you and if you are giving a concert in public they are telling the bad words to you. But we are not caring about it,” Khpolwak said.

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Ahmad Naser Sarmast, head of Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music, speaks to members of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

Ethnic groups help each other

Sarmast says that girls and boys in the orchestra come from different Afghan ethnic groups and they help each other when needed.

“It’s hope for the future,” he said.

Ethnic rivalries have been a hallmark of hostilities in Afghanistan and continue to pose a challenge to efforts promoting peace and stability.

“I strongly believe without arts and culture there cannot be security and we are using the soft power of music to make a small contribution to bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and at the same time using this beautiful, if I can call it a beautiful weapon, to transform our community,” the director said.

Some of the members of the Afghan orchestra were born and brought up in refugee camps in Pakistan, which still hosts around 3 million registered and unregistered Afghan families displaced by years of war, poverty, persecution and drought.

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Members of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, bring instruments to a class before a rehearsal at Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music, in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“We are using the healing power of music to look after the wounds of the Afghan people as well as the Pakistani people. We are here with the message of peace, brotherhood and freedom,” Sarmast said.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have experienced years of terrorist attacks, including massive casualties on both sides of their long shared border. Bilateral relations are marred by mistrust and suspicion.

Also Read: OrchKids- Bringing Jot to Underprivileged Kids Through Music

The countries blame each other for supporting terrorist attacks. Afghans allege that sanctuaries in Pakistan have enabled Taliban insurgents to sustain and expand their violent acts inside Afghanistan. Pakistan rejects the charges.

The Islamist insurgency controls or is attempting to control nearly half of Afghanistan. (VOA)