Kabul Diaries Part 9: ‘In Kabul we can’t afford a loaf of bread or paracetamol anymore’

September 6, 2021
Food prices are rising sharply in Afghanistan. Photo: Amber Clay/Pixabay

Posted on September 2, 2021:

Three weeks have passed since the fall of Kabul. If one dares to go outside, then all you see is the Taliban — with their guns roaming around — very few women can be seen outside.

The men too are fearful and want to stay away from any sort of confrontation. Just over a month ago, male municipality workers, and in some areas of Kabul, even female workers could be seen sweeping the main roads and trying to keep the city clean. Now the roads are dirty, and you don’t see the municipality workers around. Food prices are shooting up and there is shortage of medicine in big cities around the country.

Hashima (not her real name) in a conversation with me stated: “One month changed everything. It seems as if life has gone upside down.”

On being asked to clarify, she added: “Look, I am a government teacher, I can hardly afford food. We have no money to buy the daily stuff.”

Another resident of Kabul added: “My husband has been to the bank for the past three days but has not been able to withdraw money. There is so much rush, and almost no money. Tell me, how will we survive?”

In the west of Kabul city, a family wants to sell their furniture and household items. The man tries hard to hold his tears and said: “I worked hard for years to build a home and give a good life to my family but now I have to sell everything. I want to leave the country but have no money to do so. The only way was to sell everything.”

An old man sitting nearby adds: “I had not imagined that we would have to leave again. Most of my life, we were refugees and now once again after 20 years we have to think about leaving, if we don’t leave, we will not survive.”

A lady doctor who didn’t want to be named told me: “We were asked to be present in the hospitals. I went one day but it was chaotic. There is a shortage of medicine and also no one wants to work under such a harsh regime. Everyone wants to leave, and I decided not to go to work.”

Her mother adds: “The day she was going to hospital, I told her to wear a hijab and avoid makeup. I was scared they might beat her. She has already not been paid for two months and we are literally running out of cash, still it’s better she stays home and not go. The fear of her being there will kill me so it’s better she stays home.”

Ask people around the city and they will complain about the food prices. Oil, wheat, rice, gas …prices for everything are high.

A former municipality employee said to me: “My salary was 6000 Afghanis (US$80 or so). I really do not know how to manage everything. Distant relatives would send money from abroad in the past and we would manage but now everything has stopped. If we have breakfast, we don’t know what to eat for lunch or dinner.”

He cries and adds: “Is this what we deserved? Why do Afghans have to suffer for such a long period? We are not even able to buy bread or a packet of Paracetamol.”

Asked if he wants to tell anything to the world, he said: “What can I ask them? They have already abandoned us. We will die from hunger. What can I ask them, nothing!”

[The daily Jeddojehad (Struggle), a left-wing online Urdu-language daily in Pakistan is posting reports from Kabul. Filed by Yasmeen Afghan (not the real name), these reports depict picture from inside Kabul and cover what is often ignored in the mainstream. For a wider circulation, these reports are translated to English.]

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