Fear among Afghans at ‘the high­est level’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

KABUL: Afghans fear for their safety more than at any time in over a decade, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual sur­vey pub­lished yes­ter­day, which also found con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment at its low­est since polling be­gan. Some 67.4 per­cent of Afghans say they are wor­ried about their well­be­ing at all times, of­ten, or some­times, the high­est fig­ure since the sur­vey be­gan in 2004, and up two per­cent­age points from a year ear­lier.

Only around a third of peo­ple ques­tioned in the Asia Foun­da­tion’s an­nual sur­vey be­lieved the coun­try is “mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion”, down from over half in 2014 and 58 per­cent in 2013 - record break­ing years for op­ti­mism in a coun­try rav­aged by a war that has pit­ted for­eign-backed gov­ern­ment forces against Tale­ban rebels since 2001. Some 57.5 per­cent of Afghans be­lieve their coun­try is not im­prov­ing. They cite in­se­cu­rity, un­em­ploy­ment and cor­rup­tion as the main scourges that plague Afghan so­ci­ety. Op­ti­mism for the fu­ture was at its high­est in the southern prov­ince of Hel­mand-a Tale­ban strong­hold-and low­est in Kabul, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey. Bomb­ings, kid­nap­pings, un­em­ploy­ment and an econ­omy that has failed to take off are the most fre­quently cited fac­tors for Afghans wish­ing to mi­grate, legally or il­le­gally, to Europe. Afghans are the sec­ond most nu­mer­ous na­tion­al­ity af­ter Syr­i­ans to be sweep­ing into Europe with the aid of hu­man traf­fick­ers. “This year’s sur­vey shows that Afghan op­ti­mism about the over­all di­rec­tion of the coun­try fell to the low­est point in a decade, af­ter steadily ris­ing through 2014,” noted the Asia Foun­da­tion, which high­lighted the pre­vail­ing skep­ti­cism to­wards the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani.

The sur­vey, which took place in June in­volved in­di­vid­ual in­ter­views with 9,586 Afghans of 14 dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties in the coun­try’s 34 prov­inces. The mar­gin of er­ror was 1.6 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion. It came in the midst of the Tale­ban’s an­nual surge in fight­ing across the spring and sum­mer months, which claimed the lives of thou­sands of se­cu­rity per­son­nel, but be­fore the in­sur­gents’ brief cap­ture of north­ern Kun­duz, their big­gest mil­i­tary vic­tory since the in­sur­gency be­gan. —AFP

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