AFGHANISTAN: Citizens Expect Nothing If Not Peace

Friday, April 4, 2014
Terre des Hommes
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

For more than 30 years, Afghans have been living in a state of war and yearn for stability and peace. With the presidential elections on 5th April, the number of attacks on government institutions has increased. After calling for a boycott of the elections, the Taliban have warned that they would do anything to prevent them from being carried out and block the arrival of international observers. Violence is raging across the country and ordinary Afghans hope for nothing if not peace in their cities.

Considered a ‘plot by Western invaders', the elections of 5th April have given way to a resurgence in violence by the Taliban. After attacking an American NGO building and an electoral organisation building, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Kabul was targeted on Saturday. Driven from power a decade ago, the Taliban have not been weakened as previously thought. The recruitment of members to the Afghan rebellion continues and their motives remain intact: retake power and set up an Islamic regime once again.

A future without hope for the Afghan people
“The result of the elections is of little significance for ordinary Afghans. Large swathes of the population expect little from the government and only wish for peace,” says Dariusz Zietek, Country Representative of Terre des hommes in Afghanistan. Under the Taliban, living conditions were very difficult, particularly for women and young girls who were viewed as a source of sin. Afghan women were not allowed to work, leave home unaccompanied, young girls did not have access to education as school was prohibited. Prisoners in their own home, they were arrested, humiliated and often beaten if they did not respect the restrictive rules imposed on them.

After the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, there was a glimmer of hope for Afghan women. In 2004, a new constitution was ratified proclaiming equality between men and women in Afghanistan. The present government is working on implementing structural reforms regarding access to education, health care and information. However, the severity of the opposition, corruption in the country and now the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops represent major obstacles to the efforts made over the last decade. Women are still bullied and school attendance for girls remains very poor particularly in the south of the country where it is still customary to prevent girls from attending school.

Terre des hommes, committed for nearly 20 years
Active in Afghanistan since 1995, Terre des hommes (Tdh) is leading projects aimed at improving access to health care and protecting children in towns and rural areas. “The needs are enormous and we must continue our efforts tirelessly to come to the aid of the Afghan population,” says Dariusz Zietek.

  • In the disadvantaged areas of Kabul and Kandahar, we are training mid-wives to improve their skills in health and pre and post-natal care: in 2013, Tdh supported more than 10,000 pregnant women and checked the progress of around 9,000 post-partum women.
  • Tdh is also committed to Rustaq, one of the most remote northern regions of Afghanistan. There, field staff monitor the health of women and their babies and implement projects aimed at developing the rural economy and managing natural resources. The aim is to create income-generating activities for poor families such as bee-keeping or the planting of fruit trees.
  • Finally, Tdh attaches great important to the protection of children on the street or in prison. By setting up shelters for children and rehabilitation centres for minors, Tdh is contributing to building a better future for Afghan children.

When asked about the possible evolution of the political situation, Dariusz Zietek says that “it is very difficult to predict what will happen in the next few months. However, as a humanitarian aid organisation for children, our priority remains the protection of children whatever their beliefs or affiliation. We remain focussed on our goals.” Terre des hommes is supported in its efforts by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the European Union, the German Embassy, Swiss Solidarity and Caritas Germany.