While Afghanistan is in lockdown, it is far from secure.
The impact of the pandemic has been escalated due to multiple shifting forces that have heightened instability and insecurity.
Increase in COVID-19 cases: as at 25 June, there were 30,175 confirmed cases in Afghanistan and 675 deaths. Unfortunately there are staff and survivors who are presenting with COVID-19 symptoms but due to the expense and lack of accessibility to appropriate testing, there is an ongoing threat to their lives. Furthermore, this could have a compounding impact on our services as 13,004 direct and indirect beneficiaries rely on Hagar’s work in Afghanistan.
Ongoing threat of terrorism: there has been significantly more unrest in Afghanistan due to the tragic attacks on a maternity ward in Kabul and at a police commander’s funeral in the neighboring Nangarhar province. On 23 March, the UN Secretary General issued a global call urging parties of conflicts around the world to implement an immediate ceasefire to protect civilians, prevent the spread of the pandemic and allow aid workers to safely help people in need (learn more).
Food shortages: 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 significant increases in the price of wheat, oil and pulses across the country. 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.
Lack of infrastructure: due to decades of war, the IT and power infrastructure in Afghanistan is weak. Therefore, unlike developed nations, continuing work and education online has been problematic. This means it has been a constant challenge for Hagar staff to be able to continue providing remote support and counselling to survivors via technology.
Increased trauma: we are seeing our adult clients endure added trauma due to job and income loss. Furthermore, children such as Najeem (see story below), are struggling to cope with this new way of life.
Survivor in Focus
Najeem is a 14 year old boy who lives in Hagar’s Forgotten No More Boys (FNM) Centre, who has faced many traumatic experiences. His father being addicted to drugs and unable to care for the family, resulted in Najeem being abused, 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 and have creatively implemented other forms of recreation at the FNM home to help him focus on more enjoyment. We continue to closely monitor other boys in the FNM home to help them adapt and cope amongst these challenging times.
Hagar’s FNM Center was the first nationwide initiative dedicated to providing specialised recovery services to male child survivors. The FNM center has provided protection and aftercare services to over 58 boy survivors of trafficking to date.
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.