Aisha Gul has been forced to leave her home in Sang-e-Atash area of the western Badghis province as a result of war fought between the Taliban and Afghan forces. Along with her seven children, she is now living as ID outside a UN-funded IDP camp in the western Herat province.
Thousands of Afghan families have been forced to leave their homes as the war drags on in the conflict-torn Afghanistan. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between January 01 to November 06 of 2019, 374,526 individuals have fled their homes due to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. “A total of 32 out of 34 provinces had recorded some level of forced displacement,” OCHA said.
“The Taliban and police forces were fighting day and night in Murghab area of Badghis province. We were forced to leave Badghis for Herat to save the lives of my children,” Gul said.
“The government authorities and NGO workers have visited our area, Khwaja Kala neighborhood, several times. They surveyed many households but did nothing for us. We are the most in need ones,” Aisha Gul complained, wishing to return to Badghis conditioned on restoration of security in her home province.
Afghan IDPs, mostly from Badghis, Ghor, and Farah, have set up camps in different areas of Herat city, looking desperately for aid. They face tough and tougher challenges as the weather gets cold and colder.
Among thousands IDPs, there are families that have no men member are looked after by female caretakers. These families are suffering the most and are skeptical of biased treatment by the authorities and NGO workers.
Kaftar, another female IDP, who is coming with her three children from Badghis province, struggles with a life burden too heavy for her to carry on. “We are living in a muddy house that has no window nor a door for several months. The weather has gone cold since last month. My children can’t sleep as temperature goes extremely cold during nights,” she noted. “They cry.” Like Aisha Gul, Kaftar also complains of being ignored by Herat’s refugees and repatriation administration and aid agencies.
Local authorities in Herat refugee and repatriation department say that the influx of IDPs is a serious matter of concern. Jawed Nadem, head of the department, told Kabul Now that a substantial number of citizens are referring to the department to receive aid on daily basis.
According to him, around 20,000 internally displaced families are currently in need of aid in Herat province. But the refugees and repatriation department has managed to provide aid for around 11,000 families in cooperation with the aid agencies. The department is helpless and it cannot provide the remaining 9,000 families with necessary aids.
Mr. Nadem said that efforts were underway to relocate the IDPs to their homes, adding that they have resettled over 3,000 families so far.
According to the local refugees’ repatriation department, over 50,000 internally displaced families are living in Herat province. Tents, living materials, and in-cash aid have been distributed for some of the families in recent years.
Afghanistan has come largely under spotlight in national and international media for having ghost soldiers, ghost schools, ghost teachers, and ghost projects in recent years. Of the billions of financial aids poured into the country by the international community, payments made for these ghost inventories are said to be a major part of the systematic corruption, paralyzing country’s highly aid-dependent economy.
Herat’s refugee and repatriation department head claims that over 50 percent of the IDPs in the province are ghost. He points out to some residents in the northeastern suburbs of Herat city have built camps, proclaiming themselves as IDPs aiming to receive aid packages.
According to the local official, the issue of ghost IDPs has made it difficult to provide aid for the needy people. He added that they have recently created a bio-metric system to distinguish real IDPs from those who pretend to be IDPs.
IDPs accused of criminal activities
Herat has recently witnessed a substantial increase in the number of criminal incidents such as kidnappings, armed attack on mobile stores and assassination of government employees.
Some members of Herat provincial councils believe that IDPs are mostly behind such incidents.
Ghulam Habib Hashimi, member of Herat Provincial Council, says the IDPs, forced by extreme poverty, are involved in criminal activities. He says the local authorities have failed to repatriate the IDPs and the aid agencies have created incentive for them to remain in Herat. He blamed some IDPs of land grabbing in Herat.
Sakina Hussaini, a female member of Herat Provincial Council, believes that local administration is unable to control the influx of IDPs to Herat.
Herat is hosting 8,513 people of the total 34,233 internally displaced people in the western region of Afghanistan, according to OCHA.