Afghanistan

COVID-19 Update: May 15, 2020

There are 5,226 confirmed COVID-19 cases as at May 14th.

However, beyond COVID-19, there has been significantly more unrest in Afghanistan due to the recent tragic attacks on a maternity ward in Kabul and at a police commander’s funeral in the neighboring Nangarhar province.

New mothers, nurses and at least two newborn babies were among the 16 people killed in an assault on the maternity hospital in the capital, Kabul, while the bombing in the Nangarhar province killed at least 26 people. You can read a full news report here.

The country is also experiencing challenges in access to food due to the longer term impact of war and more recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country and has experienced decades of war, insecurity and drought which has destroyed its rich agriculture. As a result, there has been a spike in imported goods.

This has in turn caused a significant increase in price of wheat, oil and pulses across the country in the past month. When Pakistan, Tajikistan and major borders were shut down due to COVID-19, other food supplies, medicine and essential items also became scarce.

Sadly, the extreme spikes in food prices and supplies is felt most by those that are vulnerable in the community. They are also often not prioritized when it comes to food distribution.

From a Hagar Afghanistan perspective, we are not able to conduct some of our project activities using the usual approach due to COVID-19 restrictions. For example, our caseworkers are not able to deliver training to clients or visit them and some survivors are unable to attend classes at school. Vocational training is also postponed as staff cannot interact with clients face to face. However, staff are trying to remain in contact with survivors via phone as much as possible.

Due to decades of war, the IT and power infrastructure in Afghanistan is weak and therefore problematic when it comes to conducting any online training.

Survivor in Focus

Yasamin, is a survivor of domestic and gender base violence and manages a beauty salon business.

When we recently reached out to her, we learnt that she unfortunately had no work due to the salon being closed due to COVID-19. Despite not earning any income, the salon owner is still demanding that she pays rent. He biggest fear is losing the salon as the owner will evict her if she doesn’t pay rent. Yasamin said:

“It is a really tough time for me. I hope this situation gets better.”

We are keeping in regular contact with Yasamin to offer support during this challenging period.

Hagar pursues the highest degree of care and protection for each of its clients. To protect the identity of our clients, names have been changed and images do not necessarily represent the individual profiled.

 

COVID-19 Update: April 28, 2020

We asked our teams on the ground in Afghanistan to provide us with some updates in their regions that we could provide to everyone.

They were kind enough to give us very informative answers to some questions we had below.

What impacts are you experiencing from COVID-19 in your country since your last update?

At the beginning of the pandemic, people in Kabul were anxious and fearful of the COVID-19 virus. However, as the days progress, many are returning to some of their normal lifestyles. Since Afghanistan has not yet been affected in a major way, many are less cautious now. As the virus is an “invisible” threat, people have become less careful. The Afghans, being a very social people, struggle to follow social distancing. The general feeling is that the virus is everywhere and there is no escaping it. Their hope is that being infected will cause only a mild illness for most people and so life will go on here in this country. Thankfully, though, facemasks are a common sight everywhere on the street.

What has the impact of COVID-19 been on Hagar survivors and other Hagar project beneficiaries, since your last update?

The beneficiaries at the FNM (Forgotten No More – Hagar’s center for young boys who have experienced significant trauma) center are now adjusting to the lockdown. Most are able to adapt to the new schedules and are studying at home. They are not fearful of the COVID-19 virus. For some, however, the emotional struggles have increased as they face the impacts of childhood trauma. They are all very thankful for the home and all the provisions of food and supplies. For many, this would not be so in the provinces where they are from. Our clients have shared that in their own homes they had never had such good care and provisions. While thankful for this care, some are anxious to know if their families are well in this time of crisis. The staff continue to ensure the clients who have family phone contacts are able to call home regularly.

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the ability to deliver Hagar’s core work, since your last update?

The staff are slowly adjusting to virtual meetings. On a positive note, this is making everyone more tech savvy! However, for some, these adjustments have not been successful. Our educational trainer finds it close to impossible to teach the boys at the FNM Centre online. Many of the boys have problems concentrating and others have learning disabilities. For victims of trauma, virtual trainings are often not the answer, as they need individual tutoring. One of our solutions has been to have our oldest client assist the Trainer in teaching the younger boys. This client is a fast learner and is looking forward to being a helper in teaching the younger boys. This can be a useful skill for him in the future, as he is intelligent and gifted.

Around the world despite the lockdown, employees both male and female have been able to complete significant office duties and assignments from their homes. Many would share of new adjustments but for many opportunities to work from home is more difficult and a traumatic experience. This is especially true for our female staff. The strong cultural norms here in Afghanistan are that women, whilst at home, must only be busy with cooking, cleaning and caring for the family’s needs. Parents-in-laws, some parents and husbands are unwilling to release the women to work online and on laptops and on phones. These are women, who. in the last years were grateful that they were allowed to leave their homes to work during the day at offices and in so were released from doing only housework. However, the lockdown has changed it all for them now. One of our staff stated she could no longer cope with the pressure at home and being able to deliver her responsibilities to a standard she expects of herself and as a result was planning to resign.
Through interpersonal counselling we have found an option that will enable her balance the expectations.

Can you please provide us with one survivor story that details some of the impacts you have indicated in question 2 or 3?

Najeem is 14 years old who has faced many traumatic experiences as a young boy. His father, being addicted to drugs and unable to care for the family, resulted in Najeem being neglected and struggling with childhood depression. Not being able to go to school and enjoy sports and other activities can be hard for any boy at this time. However, the lockdown is much more distressing for a boy like Najeem, who is dealing with the effects of early childhood trauma. Najeem was at first very agitated and disturbed. He shared how he longed to go to the grounds with the other boys to play football. Our staff at Hagar have been a source of encouragement for Najeem. They have also included other forms of recreation at the center. They reassured Najeem that this lockdown will not be forever, and encouraged him to get involved with some of the other activities. The FNM Boys center has an enclosed playground with fruit trees and cherry blossoms. A peaceful and happy place in the city of Kabul. Their playground is not suitable for football, but Najeem and his friends can yet play cricket, a favorite sport in Afghanistan.

COVID-19 Update: April 13, 2020

The situation in Afghanistan is exceptionally challenging. Everyone is impacted, including Hagar Afghanistan staff and their families.

Christiana, Executive Director of Hagar Afghanistan, sent the following update to us:

“The number of cases in the country is growing daily, the lock down has not been effective. People who have no income are finding this situation very hard to bear. There are no safety nets or financial back up for the many vulnerable people in Afghanistan.

People were wailing from their roof tops… because they are caught between COVID-19, an uncertain political future and the terror of the armed opposition groups.”

Hagar Afghanistan staff are working mostly from home and remain in contact with our partners and clients via telephone when they can. Staff have conducted sessions directly with clients on the phone and have given them tasks to complete at home in order to keep them busy and focused on positive things rather than the immediate challenges posed by the virus. Public transportation is very limited.

There is significant unrest, fear and insecurity in Afghanistan and we ask you to remember and pray for this team and the many challenges that they face.

Afghanistan

After four decades of conflict, Afghanistan persists in the struggle for stability. A complex political context, economic vulnerability, and a high incidence of migration and displacement, create ripe conditions for human trafficking to flourish. Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world, with deeply entrenched gender roles.

In Afghanistan, Hagar works closely with government ministries and the Trafficking in Persons (TiP) High Commission to increase internal capacity to tackle human trafficking, slavery, and abuse. We are working to create a coherent TiP National Referral Mechanism for Afghanistan and train a wider range of stakeholders to identify and protect survivors. We also work at an individual level with women, their children, and boys who have survived human trafficking and abuse, to provide ground-breaking rehabilitation and reintegration services. Our Empowering Women for a Better Future Project tackles gender inequality head on, working to overcome the disadvantages women face, by increasing capacity for and access to education, training, and employment.

Learn more about how our work in Afghanistan is changing lives.

Support a survivor in Afghanistan today. Donate Now.

Help us transform lives

Donate now

By partnering with Hagar, you’re supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you.

Help us transform lives

Donate now

By partnering with Hagar, you’re supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you.

Help us transform lives

Donate now

By partnering with Hagar, you’re supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you.

Help us transform lives

Donate now

By partnering with Hagar, you’re supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you.

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