The World Today for May 03, 2022

NEED TO KNOW

A Troubled Land

AFGHANISTAN

At least nine people died and 13 were injured in Afghanistan recently when bomb blasts blew up their mini-buses in Mazar-e-Sharif. “The targets appear to be Shiite passengers,” a police spokesman told Agence France-Presse. “The enemies of Afghanistan are creating tension and division among our people.”

The attack followed other attacks on Shiite mosques in the same city. Young Afghans are growing up in an environment where such internecine violence is commonplace, wrote the Washington Post in a story that movingly described their plight.

While violence has declined overall in Afghanistan since the US pulled out of the country and the Taliban returned to power last year, security is still hard to find.

As the Associated Press reported, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom recently found that Afghanistan was the “worst of the worst” violators of religious freedom since the Taliban took power. The Taliban suppresses religious minorities, while other groups attack them. Islamic State fighters, who are Sunni Muslims, target Shiites regularly as heretics, for example.

The fighting is one instance of the challenges that Afghanistan now faces.

The country is on the brink of economic collapse, according to Common Dreams. After the US withdrawal, international humanitarian aid dried up and American and European officials froze Afghanistan’s assets. Now the country faces a drop-off in aid that had been fueling society.

Only seven percent of families had enough to eat in March, the Vatican News wrote. Many could share little more than bread and water with each other during Ramadan from April 1 to May 1. Facing starvation, more Afghans were agreeing to work in the Central Asian country’s dangerous coal mines.

“Choking on dust, Mir Abdul Hadi emerged from the narrow mine shaft with a sack of coal hanging heavy on his back and his skin stained black,” wrote the New York Times. “For hours he had hacked away at the coal in the dark tunnel, terrified it might collapse on him, and now he was relieved to step back into sunlight.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mentioned Afghans selling organs as famine loomed.

Others are selling their babies and daughters in a desperate bid to avoid starvation, Al Jazeera added. The UN raised a special fund of $2.44 billion for aid that could forestall disaster in Afghanistan and pressure the Taliban to change its educational and social policies, Reuters reported.

Letting girls attend school is one such policy. After the Taliban reversed its decision to allow girls in school, the country has come under enormous international pressure to revert to its original pledge, reported the Guardian.

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to fixes for this troubled land.

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