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Once a popular tourist destination in Afghanistan suffers poverty

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BAMIYAN: The picturesque Bamiyan province, once a popular destination for tourists, in Afghanistan’s central region enjoys a peaceful environment, but suffers from poverty as elders and teenagers are working to earn their living.

Habibullah, 60-year-old said, “I am a daily wager but can’t find work every day. If (I) work one day, the second day will be jobless because of the poor economy and the worst economy has drastically reduced job opportunities.”

“I can hardly earn 150 – 200 afghani (about 2 US dollars) per working day, while the price hike has sandwiched the poor people,” he said.

“Foreigners who came to Bamiyan during the presence of the US-led force in Afghanistan took their money back with their returns to their homelands and that is why food prices have gone up in the market and poor people have no money to buy food,” Habibullah said.

Bamiyan, like other parts of Afghanistan, has been suffering from poverty since the withdrawal of the US-led forces in August 2021.

Following the military defeat in Afghanistan, Washington has frozen nearly 10 billion dollars in assets of Afghanistan’s central bank, leading to worsening economic problems and poverty in the war-torn country.

US President Joe Biden has reportedly split 7 billion dollars of frozen Afghan assets equally between the families of victims of 9/11 and the humanitarian assistance for Afghans, a decision that has been widely condemned.

More than 22 million Afghans out of some 35 million of the country’s population are facing acute food shortages and the war-torn country would face humanitarian catastrophe if not assisted, according to aid agencies’ reports.

14-year-old Mehdi said, “I am in the fifth grade of school but the poverty has forced me to abandon school and work on the streets to earn bread for my family”. With a daily income of 100 afghanis (about 1 dollar), he said it is difficult to feed his 10-member family.

The central Bamiyan province, with its beautiful landscape and historical monuments including giant Buddhas, is among the poorest provinces of Afghanistan as cave dwellers still exist there, although it has reported no security incident over the past year.

“You can visit the mountains and valleys in all parts of Bamiyan without worrying about security,” Governor of Bamiyan province Abdullah Sarhadi said, calling for foreign help in building infrastructures and economic development.

Security alone is not enough, said another Bamiyan inhabitant Najibullah, 25, adding that local people need a stable economy. 

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