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Xinhua, September 11, 2014

Afghan martyr-families continue to suffer as Afghanistan observes Martyrs Week

"I have to beg to feed my family of three after I lost my husband"

By Haleem

Widows of victims of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan have resorted to begging in the streets with their young children forced to do odd jobs in order to survive.

This was the harsh reality that the Afghan government has to face as it observed starting Tuesday Haftai Shahid or Martyrs Week to pay homage to Afghans who have lost their lives during the protracted war and instability in Afghanistan.

The Martyrs Week, which started September 9, is being observed by holding conferences, seminars and praying for the souls of the departed martyrs.

"As a result of the sacrifices offered by our martyrs, Afghanistan has become stable and peaceful," President Karzai said in his remarks at a ceremony held here Tuesday.

But unmindful of the commemoration of Martyrs Week are the families left behind by the martyrs.

"I have to beg to feed my family of three after I lost my husband," an Afghan widow told Xinhua.

The burka-clad woman, who refused to give her name, said that her husband was killed in a suicide attack in Pul-e-Charkhi area of Kabul City two years ago.

An Afghan beggar sits on the ground on a street in Herat
An Afghan beggar sits on the ground on a street in Herat, Jan. 8, 2013. Over a third of Afghans are living in abject poverty. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)

She said that her husband was the only breadwinner in the family and after his martyrdom she was forced to beg since she does not know any kind of job. "Begging is shameful act but extreme poverty has forced me to do this," the woman said.

According to the widow, she earns about 200-300 Afghanis and sometimes even 1,000 Afghanis (exchange rate is 57 Afghanis to 1 U. S. dollar) per day.

Although there are no official figures on the total number of Afghans killed during the protracted conflict, Ali Iftikhari, spokesman for Ministry of Martyrs, Disabled and Social Affairs ( MMDSA), said that some 137,000 martyr-families are registered at the ministry.

Usually the government of Afghanistan pays 100,000 Afghanis for the family of a person killed in the ongoing war with militants or terrorist attacks and 50,000 Afghanis for those who are injured.

An official with the disabled people department in the northern Baghlan Province, Mir Bacha Khan, said that the government also pays the salary of policeman or army personnel if he or she has been killed during the fighting. The money is given to the surviving spouse or children.

Khan said that a disabled person also receives an annual allowance from the government of up to 60,000 Afghanis depending on the extent of his or her injuries.

Not everybody, however, is being taken care of by the government. The mother of a policeman named Qasim who was killed in the fighting has complained that she has no money to visit a doctor and the government has not supported Qasim's family.

A veteran writer and political analyst, Partao Nadiri, in talks with a local television, said that he knows of many martyr- families who have endured extreme poverty and their children cannot go to school.

"My father was killed in Helmand province one year ago and my mother, just three months after the murder of my father, took us to Kabul and since then I, along with my younger brother, have been working on streets to earn livelihood," Zahir, 11, told Xinhua.

Zahir also complained that his family has not received any support from the government but only meager cash, cooking oil, rice, tea and blankets during winter provided by aid agencies and some businessmen.

Category: HR Violations, Poverty - Views: 5243