Crushing poverty is forcing displaced people in Afghanistan to make some very disappointing choices.
For some, this means selling their kidneys. But for other families, it means selling their own daughters for marriage, a dire fortune for thousands of young girls.
Children play in the dirt in camps scattered on the outskirts of Herat due to drought and war.
Hungry, unwell children, not starving yet, but pathetic poor.
In the camps, an elderly woman cries for help.
“Many nights,” she tells CTV News, “I have nothing to eat.”
It can be hot during the day, but it is freezing cold at night. And mud huts give little comfort. People scrape plastic scraps to burn or sell for a few cents.
Mulla Sadiq and his family arrived here a few months ago on a plot of hard clay scattered in cloth tents.
“The drought in our village was so bad, we came here looking for foreign aid,” he said.
And the need to survive has forced many to turn to an unthinkable solution: to sell off their daughters in marriage while they are still children.
It has become almost common practice.
The seven-year-old Jinab has already been promised to a man from another province.
His mother says, “We had neither food nor warm clothes. “So we sold our daughter to survive.”
There is also a flourishing business like mafia in selling organs.
A man sold a kidney two months ago for $3,000.
“I was in debt,” he says. “And I had to feed my kids. There was no other option but to sell the kidney.”
Shah Wazir Ahmadi volunteers for a foundation trying to stop organ sales. But it’s not working, they say.
“Poor people are encouraged to do so,” he said. “And buyers come to camps looking for sellers.”
A woman familiar with the business is Dellaram, who told CTV News that she not only sold her right kidney, but also her two young daughters, in future marriages.
She describes it as sacrificing a child to save others.
“Six months after the takeover by the Taliban, Afghanistan is hanging by a thread,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a Security Council meeting this week. “For Afghans, daily life has become a frozen hell.”
The United Nations has called for more aid to the country to boost the economy and help some people who are in a corner because of poverty.
“We asked for approximately $1 billion last year to address the humanitarian crisis, which should be supplemented by $4.4 billion in additional humanitarian aid for 2022,” UN special envoy on Afghanistan Deborah Lyons told the meeting. ” ,
Lyons said they are seeking an additional $3.6 billion for the One-UN Transitional Engagement Framework (TEF) for Afghanistan, an initiative launched today to assist Afghans in 2022.
“But this comprehensive and systems-wide strategy introduces a basic human needs pillar that will provide essential services such as health and education, as well as provide maintenance for community infrastructure and with special emphasis on the socioeconomic needs of women. It will also promote livelihood and social cohesion. And girls,” she said.
One of the bigger problems is that after the Taliban takeover, foreign aid has largely stopped.
“In this moment of greatest need, these rules must be seriously reviewed,” Guterres said. “I reiterate our call for the issuance of general licenses covering transactions necessary for all human activity. We need to give financial institutions and commercial partners legal assurance that they can be humane without fear of breaching sanctions. Work with operators.”
Whether timely assistance can be received to save more young girls from selling, and to prevent more families from selling organs, is not clear.
With the war in Afghanistan over, some of those who fled Herat years ago say they are now ready to return home, but do not have the means.