26 Dec. 2008
PR# 2008-740

Refugees return to a safer Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - In 2001, Mohammad fled Afghanistan, fearing for his life and the lives of his wife and two small children. The Taliban were looking for him; they said he was not Muslim and intended to throw him in their prison. Mohammad knew that Taliban prison ended in death. Now in 2008, Mohammad shares the story of why he left and the circumstances of his return to the country he loves.

“At the time, I was [working] in Kabul,” said Mohammad. “The Taliban came and said we were not Muslim, that we were of another religion. They caught the eight people working for me and put them in the Taliban’s jail.”

The Taliban had not yet found Mohammad, but he knew he and his family would be thrown in jail too if they were. He fled to Peshawar, Pakistan, where his company had a sister office. His wife and their two children left their home for her father’s house until Mohammad could send for them.

After a month, Mohammad was able to send for his wife, his daughter and son, but it took two years of international assistance before Mohammad and his family felt safe enough to come back to Kabul.

“Before we left, people never thought about peace because the Taliban oppressed all the people,” said Mohammad’s wife. “Men could not find work and the women could not go to school. It was impossible for women to work in the Taliban regime.”

Now Mohammad and his wife live in the same home they lived in before they fled; a home they almost lost under the Taliban regime. Mohammad has his old job back, and his wife has started a business employing Afghan women. All the goods the company produces are all handcrafted – socks, gloves, jewellery, silk carpets, and embroidery.

“We have no problems with security, or money problems. We are very happy with the work of ISAF,” said Mohammad’s wife, of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul.

A representative for the Non-Governmental Organization, Sozo International, that works to improve the lives of refugees in camps throughout the country, said “since the Taliban fell, my estimate would be that 45 percent of the refugees have returned home. In winter, most people stay put. But in the summer, more and more Afghans are leaving Iran and Pakistan for their homeland.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/