Monday, February 8, 2010

Running Out of Options, Afghans Pay for an Exit

Running Out of Options, Afghans Pay for an Exit

For my post this week, I wanted to delve into the experiences of Afghan people. More specifically, how do they reconcile their identity as an Afghan citizen with a desire to live without violence and instability? In my search, I found an interesting article about the increased rate of migration out of Afghanistan through illegal, often perilous means. Despite the influx of Afghan refugees returning home following the seemingly successful ousting of the Taliban early on, the insurgency along with corruption in the government have led to big business for smugglers offering escape to other countries. Afghans are paying upwards of $25,000 to be able to live a normal life outside of Afghanistan.

Given the fact that it’s very difficult to find work and impossible to find safe work, it makes sense that these people would want to get out of Afghanistan. However, prior to reading this piece, I had a very different image of what smuggling entailed. Above all, I was surprised by how common smugglers are. The author writes that, “Finding a smuggler is not as difficult as it might seem.” Despite knowing many of the problems with Karzai’s government, I was struck by the ease with which these smuggling rings operate as well. The writer continues citing how, “One smuggler chuckled when asked if he feared being arrested, saying his business operated much like a travel agency, and almost as openly.” I imagine many people cannot afford to leave the country, but for a lot young people, it’s a realistic option.

For me, this article illuminates the struggle faced by everyday Afghans more clearly. While many young people love their country, they feel conflicted because they want to live in peace. And because of this, they are extremely committed to finding a way to leave Afghanistan. One deportee is quoted as saying he will save his money and try to leave again as soon as possible. Another Afghan explains his commitment to escaping, saying that, “’It’s death or destination.’” These people are Afghans, but Afghanistan cannot provide the simple pleasures and freedoms they want. Living a normal life seems unachievable is such a setting.

In general, the piece highlights the important fact that war has deep, unforeseeable, far-reaching and lasting implications. As Americans, we hear news about Afghanistan, but we can never truly understand the innumerable ways in which individual human beings are affected. This is relevant to us, because as consumers of news coverage of the war, it’s important to understand that it’s more than just the number of people killed that day or even the experiences of our own soldiers. The Afghanistan war is a jumble of causes and effects, and it spreads across continents with the individuals it influences.

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