Afghan women are the most oppressed under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Here is an open letter from a daughter of Afghanistan to the President of the European Union Council urging to come forward and help the distressed.
By Zarifa Ghafari
President, European Council
Dear Monsieur Michel,
I write this letter as an Afghan mayor in exile, on behalf of my people, at a time when people in your countries celebrate the holiday season with joy, yet when at the same time life is getting darker and harder for me and my people in Afghanistan. My family and I were evacuated from our country in August and now live as refugees in Europe. We have left behind millions of other Afghans whose suffering deepens by the day.
The situation in Afghanistan is critical: rising unemployment is the most pressing issue, and hunger now afflicts almost all the population. Poverty is spiralling, basic health and public-sector services are collapsing and, at the same time, Afghanistan is facing severe drought, the second in four years. Many people have already run out of food as winter approaches.
The World Food Program reports that over half of Afghanistan’s population lives below the poverty line. Whole communities have been cut off from work opportunities, and 22.8 million people are identified as acutely food insecure, including hundreds of thousands who have been displaced by conflict since the beginning of the year. Even before the onset of 2021, before the Taliban retook the country, nearly 10 million children needed humanitarian assistance; they – and now many more – still do.
Afghanistan is now on the verge of economic and social collapse and a humanitarian catastrophe likely if economic problems are not appropriately addressed; therefore, I am asking the EU to consider setting up a dedicated board where Afghan women leaders in exile are able to speak directly to your officials and communicate the needs of our fellow countrywomen and -men as trustworthy representatives of our Afghan nation.
We have an opportunity to prevent further violence, to prevent Afghanistan from descending into a civil war and becoming a pariah state. That is why I am appealing to you. The people of Afghanistan need a lifeline, and for the international community to hold it with them. We must act swiftly to prevent more deaths and reduce suffering and avoid the severe humanitarian crisis that will ensue at the exact moment foreign aid to Afghanistan dries up.
Failure by the international community to prevent the country’s economic collapse will have devastating consequences and prompt more Afghans to migrate. We must preserve the last two decades’ achievements and pave the way to further development.
Addressing these issues does not mean we want or can accept recognition by European countries of the Taliban’s government, or give the Taliban legitimacy when its government is but one side of the triangle is responsible for the problems facing the county. It is important to pressurize them and their sponsor countries such as Pakistan, to prevent human rights abuses in Afghanistan.
The people of Afghanistan, in particular women, look forward to receiving your support and assistance during this critical and challenging time. Once again, we sincerely thank the EU and international community for paying special attention to Afghanistan and its people.
(Daughter of Afghanistan, who like millions of others is a victim of Afghanistan’s ongoing misery.)
(Zarifa Ghafari is an Afghan activist and politician and the youngest mayor of Maidan Shahr, the capital city of the Wardak Province, Afghanistan. She has been working to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan and was chosen as International Woman of Courage in 2020 by the US Secretary of State. She has survived three assassination attempts by the Taliban.)
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