This winter, families in Afghanistan face a humanitarian crisis. Landmines and explosives plague their communities and farmland.
Aashir* lives in Helmand Province, near Lashkar Gah City. During the devastating fight for control of Afghanistan earlier this year, he was forced to flee with his family. He returned to discover his home and community were strewn with explosives. Stores were shuttered and farmland was too dangerous to be used. Food, supplies and shelter were limited.
Below is his account of how your support is making the village safe and helping families during this humanitarian emergency.
"My name is Aashir. I am 53 years old. There are eight people in my family altogether. I grew up in a remote village where there weren’t many opportunities so we moved to Helmand Province—near Lashkar Gah City—and we have lived here for 15 years. I support my family with the earnings from my store and from casual labour.
At the end of 2020, when the conflict intensified between the Taliban and the Ex-government we were forced to leave our home. Our village was used as an attacking point towards the capital. When the fighting ended about three months ago, we returned but our homes and streets had all been contaminated with landmines and explosives. We couldn't connect to other roads or reach places like school, the market and our land. Some local stores and businesses couldn't operate as before.
About 105 families were affected. It was worst for the children—their parents were so worried about all the accidents in the area that they weren’t able to go to school and continue their education. People were so desperate to return home that there were accidents. The doctor lost her legs in an explosion and one of my neighbours was killed.
The HALO Trust came to teach us about the explosives and landmines and how to stay safe from accidents. Then they cleared the land so we were able to access our livelihoods.
Aashir, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
People feel safer now—they can live in their homes without restrictions. Before, the children were forced to take long detours to get to school. Residents were having to walk long distances to fetch clean water. Now they can meet their daily needs and pass through the cleared area without fear. We are very happy that HALO cleared the land so we can use it for essential needs without the risk of an explosion. I would like to thank HALO for clearing the mines in our country and village, enabling us to have safe access to our lands and livelihoods again.
For the future, I hope for security and peace in our country and village so that there is no more poverty and despair."
Aashir, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, November 2021.
*Names have been changed to protect people's identity.
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