Children have once again become the main victim of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, with impoverished families that are forced to take desperate measures like child marriage or encouraging your children to work, while the arrival of winter worsens the situation.
Sameer, just 8 years old, sells gum at Shar-e-Now park in Kabul for less than two dollars a day, and although he carries a bat with him to play cricket whenever he has a free moment, His goal is to raise enough money to help pay his house rent, eat, and dream of one day becoming an engineer.
The death of his father, a member of the Afghan Army, in a suicide attack in the northern province of Baghlan, forced his mother to move with the family to Kabul in search of an opportunity.
Dream of being a child
”I can’t go to school every day because I have to come to sell gum and earn money for my family. I lost my father in a suicide attack (…) We are two brothers and three sisters who live with my mother. I love my family and I work for them “Sameer explained.
Since his house “is not good,” he says, he wants to one day become an “engineer to build tall buildings.”
But Sameer’s case is not unique. Other minors are also pushed to contribute something to the family income, even if they have to work like him for endless hours or take long walks at nightfall to return home.
“My father is disabled and my older brother is a shoe shine, we are nine members of the family and we live in a rental house, so we have to work,” said Kameen, another boy who works on the street.
Apparently repeating what he hears from the elders, Kameen hopes international aid will return soon to support her family, after the cut off of the general financial flow coinciding with the arrival of the Taliban to power on August 15. So you can go to school, play cricket, and become a doctor.
“I’m in school and I want to be a doctor. I would like to be a cricketer like Rashid and Nabi, ”he said, naming the two stars of the sport in Afghanistan.
Being a father and poor
Limited by strict social norms that prevent her from going out alone or approaching to talk to strangers, Shaima is accompanied by her 4-year-old daughter to beg from passersby. “It’s not good to leave home alone, that’s why I have to bring my daughter with me, it hurts me to see my daughter begging, but what can I do? I have six members in the family and my husband is sick and in bed, so I have no other option, “she said.
Poverty not only increased child labor and led to an increase in school dropouts, it is also reflected in a greater number of child marriages.
Abdul Malik gave up his 9-year-old daughter after being unable to repay a debt of about $ 2,000 he borrowed for a failed animal husbandry business. “I didn’t really intend to sell or give my daughter in marriage, but I borrowed money to earn a living and couldn’t pay it back. The lender made me pay him. So he gave me the option of giving me more money and taking my daughter. I had no choice but to accept, ”Malik acknowledged.
In Afghan culture and in Islam, child marriage or the sale of children are prohibited and considered a crime. But “when you have no other possibility to ensure the survival of the family, the only option is that,” he said.
I had no choice, he insists, but “I swear I was not going to give my daughter to marry her, she is only 9 years old,” he laments.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), cases of child marriage in Afghanistan are on the rise, with even credible information from families offering daughters as young as 20 days old for future marriages in exchange for money.
And the situation may still get worse.
With the arrival of the harsh and cold Afghan winter, almost 14 million children face problems accessing food and more than a million could die of severe acute malnutrition if aid does not arrive urgently in the country, UNICEF has warned.
At this time “More than 2.3 million children suffer from malnutrition throughout the country, in our hospital alone in the last three months, 25 children have died from malnutrition. For three months we have not had fuel, food, or medicine “stressed Dr. Noorulhaq Yousufzai, head of Kabul’s Indira Gandhi Hospital.
With information from EFE
At least three dead after an explosion in a mosque in Nangarhar, northern Afghanistan
Pakistan will be the first country to receive an official visit from the Afghan Taliban government
“False promises”, Amnesty International’s lapidary report on the Taliban’s 75 days in Afghanistan