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The Toxic takeover by Taliban

“People are fleeing by the thousands, and we need immediate humanitarian aid so that families are not dying from starvation or lack of clean water.”

-Malala Yousafzai

Death. Destruction. Dominion. The Taliban is tearing apart the multi-ethnic country, Afghanistan. Imagine yourself in the shoes of a teenager in Afghanistan. The terrorism, the gunshots, the pain, the suffering. Your education has paused and doesn’t seem like it will continue for quite some time. You see the women lose their rights being told to wear a burqa, a garment covering women from head to toe, the president has fled the country, they have imposed their laws based on the Sharia Islamic Law, the death of those around you and the desperate attempts to escape the country you’ve known your entire life, the population is now controlled. It would feel as if your whole world is collapsing. “What kind of future does my country have? What kind of future do I have?”

The Taliban (mujahedeen) or as they refer to themselves, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, were established in 1994. They fought against the troops of the Soviet Union back in the 1980s and they wished to reclaim their country and remove any foreign influence from their land. 14 million people, about 35% of Afghanistan’s population, were already facing food insecurity before the Taliban took over. In aggregate terms, 79 flood incidents, 30 earthquakes, 20 landslides and 20 epidemics are recorded as the most frequently observed natural disasters during the period under consideration. Increase in the country’s disasters is an increase in the citizen’s suffrage. All of this will worsen under the Taliban’s control.

A recent proven example is the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination plans are halted. Many were afraid for their safety. They don’t have time to worry about it. They just want to get out of Afghanistan alive. COVID-19 vaccines are nearing the expiration date and from 134,000+ people getting vaccinated, it dropped to 30,000+. The Taliban insurgency added to the current pandemic crisis that Afghanistan has been experiencing. There are reports that women were not allowed to work anymore so what about those female health care workers? What will be the future for everyone’s health and wellness if these workers are stopped from doing their work, from serving the people?

Education is the biggest step to making a change, but in a country with a literacy rate of just 38%, how will everyone understand? The pandemic forced all children to stay at home and several of them had to give up their education. Over 2 million Afghans are forced into child labour in order to provide for their families and fend for themselves. Moreover, the Taliban is putting major restrictions on the education of women. From their attire, education, choices to their opinions, all will be altered by the mindset of their new-found society. They have made a multitude of sacrifices nevertheless, they shouldn’t have to make anymore. Afghani women have gained some power now and they are not willing to give up their future. All these factors conclude that it is certain that the literacy rates will worsen. The sound of a school bell would be replaced with a gunshot. The uneducated are always a threat to their environment consequently, they do not understand the extent of climate change.

Will there be a future at all? If there is, will it be safe or will it be a future where everyone lives in fear? People are trying to flee. They are scared. The US, NATO, and its allies are sending troops again to help the people who are fleeing the country. But what about those who can’t? What about those who are already under the strict control of the Taliban? Let us not forget about those people. Let’s do what we can to help the people who are living in fear to live their own lives and help their countrymen, the Afghans, as well. The Taliban are not just a threat to the people, they are a threat to the environment as well.

-Written by Nysa Khanna and Regina Dideles