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More Hardship in Afghanistan as 800,000 Afghans Return Home


Farida, 7, and her mother lay on the bed at hospital after a militant attack on a Shiite shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. More than a dozen people were killed in the attack on a Shiite shrine in Kabul, an official said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Afghanistan is facing another crisis.

This time it is a housing and food shortage, resulting from the return to the country of about 800,000 Afghans this year. They had been staying in Pakistan and Iran.

Neighboring countries, particularly Pakistan, have taken in several million Afghan refugees over the past 40 years. But Pakistan and Iran have been pushing the refugees to return home.

Afghan refugee girls in Kerman Iran.
Afghan refugee girls in Kerman Iran.

The people returning to Afghanistan include undocumented deportees. They were expelled, but lack documentation.

“I’ve returned after a long time,” a man named Azad Khan Minumdai told VOA. “…I left because the situation in Pakistan had become very difficult. One has to protect one’s honor.”

Afghans living in Pakistan reported increased police harassment. But they are having a hard time finding shelter, water and food in Afghanistan.

Haji Ghulamullah returned home with his clan of 600 to 800 families. Many of the families have little money to pay for their own food or water.

Ghulamullah said Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Reparations promised to build homes and provide water. But the ministry has yet to make good on its promises, he said.

He said he called Afghan officials to ask for help. One official advised him to close roads by launching a street protest. He suggested such action might put pressure on the government.

The United Nations says it recognizes the problems faced by people returning to Afghanistan.

U.N. officials made an appeal for more than $150 million in emergency aid. But so far, it has only received about 13 percent of the requested money.

With winter weather coming soon, the United Nations is worried about a humanitarian crisis.

Afghanistan has faced almost nonstop military conflict since 1973, when the armed forces ousted the government.

This week, Afghan officials reported that at least 30 civilians were killed in clashes between government forces and Taliban fighters. The United States military provided assistance to the Afghan forces. Two U.S. soldiers were reported killed in the fighting.

“Despite (this) tragic event, we are steadfast in our commitment to help our Afghan partners defend their nation,” said General John Nicholson. He is commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.

In Washington, another U.S. government spokesman said Pakistan can help bring about stability by acting against militants on Pakistani soil “who seek to attack its neighbors.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked this week about protests against the government in Pakistan. The New York Times newspaper reported that 1,500 people supporting the opposition party have been arrested.

“The United States will continue to support freedom of assembly and freedom of expression,” Kirby said.

I’m Bruce Alpert.

Ayesha Tanzeem reported on this story for VOANews.com. Bruce Alpert adapted this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

particularly – adv. more than usually

harassment - n. to interfere with someone, often in a repeated way

clan - n. a large group of people who are related

assembly - n. a group of people who gather together

stability - n. the quality or state of something that is not easily changed or likely to change

steadfast - adj. very loyal to a person, belief, or cause

commitment - n. a promise to do or give something

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