We kind of got used to the Syrians, but who is this crowd of Afghans? Why do so many come here? Is there a war there? And who are the Hazaras?
Afghanistan became as big of a migrant-emitter country as Syria. They have the second most migrants after Syria. In the second quarter of this year, 38% Syrians and 36% Afghans chose the path touching Hungary. This means a 193% growth for the Afghans.
But why do they come here? The Syrian story is quite understandable with its civil war, but it seems like nothing special has happened in Afghanistan which would differ from their usual happenings. Chaos, poverty, ethnical problems – business as usual. Why did so many of them start their way towards Europe? Valasz.hu collected the reasons:
Let’s start with the basic facts!
- Afghanistan is not an Arabic country
- The Afghans are not Arabs ethnically. We call everyone living in Afghanistan Afghans but the truth is that there are many ethnicities living there. The Pashtuns give ~50% of the population, but there are others like the Hazaras.
- Afghanistan is much further away than Syria
- It belongs to Middle-Asia so it is quite far from Europe geographically and culturally. The capital city, Kabul is 4500 kilometres away.
- After the Cold War, many failed states were left behind. These are countries where the constructions of the state, public order and institutions have fallen apart. There is constant chaos and civil war in Afghanistan since 1978.
- Afghanistan is one of the most miserable places in the world
- It never really had a Golden Age, but was quite organised until the downfall of the monarchy in 1975. According to various studies, the country is excessively wretched.
- The level of human development (the index number of the standard of living used by the UN): Afghanistan is the 169th out of 187 countries.
- Global peace index (shows how peaceful and safe a country is): 161st out of 162. It only passed Syria.
- Rate of literate people: Only 32% of the men older than 15 can write and read.
- Child mortality (the rate of children who passed away before turning 1): 187,5/1000. The absolute worst rate in the world.
- The Afghan Muslims are the most conservative
- They are much more conservative than the Muslims of the Near-East. The way they think is a mile away from the Eastern thinking. They very much stick to their beliefs in any kind of situation.
Afghanistan is an artificial country
- It has never been colonised, but still it was created by the Eastern countries just like Iraq or Libya. It functioned as a buffer state for many years. Then, the borders were drawn up by the Brits and the Russians. This is how half of the Pashtuns got into today’s Pakistan and how different ethnicities were closed into Afghanistan.
What is in Afghanistan today?
It is supposed to be a working Muslim democracy, but it’s much more complicated than that. There were presidential elections in 2014 where Mohammad Asraf Gani, an anthropology professor won. The government, supported by the East, controls only the 1/5 of the country, meaning Kabul and bigger cities. The country is ruled by rebel groups. The Talibans started an offensive against the government this spring. Cities became battlefields and organisations like the Hezb-e Islams and the Islamic State appeared. They profited from the Talibans lost attractiveness. The Talibans otherwise lost their leader in 2013. The Islamic State considers Afghanistan as the part of the caliphate. They started fighting with the Talibans when a few Taliban leaders changed sides. Their fight turned into brutality.
Why is the situation getting worse?
The direct reason is probably the reduction of Eastern military presence. The NATO- mission in Afghanistan started in 2001 and ended last year. This gradual secession is similar to what happened in Iraq. Three years after the secession there, the civil war broke out. Afghanistan is on the same path. On the 22nd of June, the Talibans busted a bomb hidden in a car in front of the parliament of Kabul and invaded the building.
Who can come to Europe?
Seeing their situation, the cautious middle class, which is not many but exists, is looking for some way out because they suspect that there’s going to be big problems. Since 2001, there was a quite peaceful society layer who worked together with the Eastern military. Now, they are the N° 1 target of the Islamic State so they simply cannot stay.
A much bigger group of people is the Afghan refugees living in refugee camps near Afghanistan due to the constant wars. According to estimations, there is over 2,5 million of them. Most of them live in Iran and Pakistan but they weren’t able to integrate.
The personal stories of the refugees coming to Europe tell that most of them come from those camps and moan about the brutal treatment of the police. They don’t want to return to their chaotic homeland. Most of the children and teens don’t even have memories of Afghanistan since they were born in the refugee camps.
The third group is the ethnic-religious minority. You could already see many faces resembling to Mongolians in front of Keleti pályaudvar. They are mostly Hazaras, who have been pursued for a long time in their home. They have an interesting history; their ancestors were settled in Middle-Afghanistan by Genghis Khan. They also differ from the other Afghans in their religion. They are Shiites oppositely to the Sunnite Pashtuns. When in war, the Talibans start to extinguish the Hazaras and the Islamic State considers them apostate. 1,5 million of them live in the refugee camps of Pakistan.
In the last few years, the Sunnite radicalism forged ahead in Pakistan so the Hazaras and other Shiites cannot stay there. Different terror organisations attack them constantly. Usually a few unknown armed men stop a bus on which they know that they find Shiites, shepherd down everyone, shoot the Shiites and let the others go.
This is what’s happening in Afghanistan.
translated by Alexandra Béni
Photo by Balazs Beli