Voices of children who continue to be hardest hit by conflict in Afghanistan

The scars of war

By Murtaza Mohammadi
An IDP boy in Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

09 June 2019

UN: CIVILIAN POPULATION IN AFGHANISTAN MUST BE PROTECTED FROM HARM

“The single biggest cause of humanitarian suffering is declining compliance with international humanitarian law.” – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

KABUL, 9 June 2019 - Against the sobering backdrop of the ongoing intense conflict across Afghanistan, the United Nations remains troubled that civilians are being killed in high numbers and urges all parties to the conflict to meet their obligations to protect civilians from harm.

See the press release here.

Badghis, Afghanistan - The aerial view of Badghis is heartbreaking and different than any other city in Afghanistan. All around the province, there are huge settlements of displaced populations living under tents, among whom children being hardest hit by conflict.  

Families have nothing to protect their children, living in cold, little or nothing to eat for days, children are only hoping the situation would be better one day.

Children are only hoping the situation would be better one day.

 

An IDP Girl in West Afghanistan Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

“I feel better here in the camp. We have nothing here, but I feel safe.”

Shahnaz, 10 years old, lives in an IDP camp in Badghis. “It is so difficult to live in this camp. It is so cold, but life is so scary in our village too. It’s all fighting. I want peace and I want to go to school.”

 

An IDP boy in Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

Hamdullah, 20 years old is the sole breadwinner for his siblings and mother. “I lost my father in the conflict 6 years ago. Since then, I had to work hard on the farms of others to fend for my family. I had a cow, a donkey and a horse. When the fighting started in our village, I left everything behind, took my family and came here. I love it here. Though different and difficult, there is at least no fighting.”

 

An IDP Girl in West Afghanistan Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

“We all love to be in this child friendly space. It’s safe and warm here and I have made new friends.” Zeinab, 12 years old was displaced due to the conflict in her village. “I still remember the first rocket that landed on our farm. It destroyed everything, our farm, our house. I was so scared though I had seen fighting before. I don’t want to experience this again.”

 

An IDP boy in Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

“We abandoned our village 7 months ago when the conflict started. The whole village was vacated overnight.”

 

I ducked into the mud to protect myself from the shells which were falling all around me,

says Saddam Hussain, happy that he made it out of the conflict zone.

Hussain loves it here, spending most of his day with his friends in a child friendly space in the camp. Hussain is also happy to receive his winter clothes. “There are new warm jackets in the bag, socks, shoes, everything, wow!” he exclaims, smiling.

 

An IDP boy in Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

“I left school when we relocated due to the conflict. I miss my hometown. I miss my friends. I just received a bag full of new clothes. I am going back to the camp and surprise my brothers and sisters. I wish one day I could help people when I grow up. I am sure it feels good to help others, make them happy and help them stay warm,” says 10-year-old Mohammad Osman.

An IDP boy in Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

Saber, 13, has had a challenging life. “I never went to school and have to work on the farm to fend for my family," he said sadly. But I hope one day to become a photographer when I grow up, “ he says with a slight sparkle in his eyes. When asked why he wants to become a photographer? Why not an engineer or a doctor?  

 

Because, life is so sad, I want to capture and keep people’s happy moments in life,

he responded.
An IDP Girl in West Afghanistan Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

Shafiqa, 12 years old has one wish. There would peace in her village, so she can go back to school. “I am missing my home, friends, the classroom. I dream about the day I teach in my own class and help children read and write.” And I hope every day that dream will come true.

 

An IDP boy in Badghis, western Afghanistan
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

Ramin is one of the many conflict affected children in Afghanistan. Ramin is living with her mother and sister under a tarpaulin that barely stops the rain coming through. Ramin says nothing.  I tried several times to get him to talk to me.  His just kept staring at me, his expression not changing.  But his eyes say a lot, devasted and sad.

Let a child be a child.

 

IDP's children playing in a child friendly space in a settlement in Badghis
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

Children playing in a child friendly space in one of the IDP camps in Badghis.

Children are suffering the most in armed conflicts. With the recent humanitarian crisis in Badghis, many people were displaced due to conflict and drought. We at UNICEF are on the ground to ensure children living in emergency situations are enjoying the same rights as children everywhere else.  A fair chance for every child.

Let us Act Now and give peace a chance!

 

Thanks to Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) for supporting UNICEF Afghanistan in monitoring and reporting on grave violations against children.