Broken hearts and homes – Displaced Afghan families left with little hope to carry on

This content is in English.

Deeba [1] is a 46-year-old widow and mother of five children, originally from Alingar’s Saba Khil village. The family has been relocated several times in the last few months due to the ongoing conflict and unstable conditions in Afghanistan. Deeba, like many other Afghans, yearns for peace and harmony in her country, as much of her own life — and that of her family — has been spent in conflict and instability.

“We migrated to Pakistan 25 years ago, in 1996, and settled in a refugee camp in Mansehra. When Afghanistan’s situation began to stabilize, we returned to our country in 2011. We settled in Saba Khil. Sadly, just three years later, my husband went missing. We have not been able to track him since and some say he might have already been killed. The uncertainty and helplessness are painful,” Deeba expressed her concern.

Deeba has been strong in the face of all the adversity and uncertainty because she had the unwavering support of her son. “All of my children went to school in Saba Khil. My son, Imran Ullah, on the other hand, was a highly ambitious person. In May 2020, he graduated from 12th grade and started exploring universities to gain higher education and perhaps become a doctor. He would come to me every day to talk about his aspirations and reassure me that everything would be fine one day. After seeing his determination and commitment, I began to plan his engagement as well,” Deeba explained.

Imran was the sole breadwinner for the family. He worked as a farmer on the five jeribs [2] of land the family owned. “We kept some of the crop for our household use and sold the rest. We were able to buy basic food for the house and meet other household expenditures, thanks to our agricultural earnings.”

As the conflict intensified in the country in June (2021), Deeba’s hometown became unsafe to live in. “As the violence became more severe, our neighbours began to flee to safer areas. We left our house and settled at the IDP [3] Camp in Mehterlam.”

“My elder son Imranullah always wanted to keep everyone happy. Right before ‘Eid [4], he went to a nearby market to buy new clothes and accessories for his sisters and I in preparation for the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha festivities. His sisters were overjoyed to see the lovely outfits he had purchased for them and were looking forward to wearing them on Eid. Unfortunately, we had no idea that fate had other plans in mind for us. The very next day, the violence increased, and we could hear gunfire and bombs exploding very near us. My son was sitting outside our tent on the night of July 18th when a rocket struck the ground near our tent. I dashed outside and scooped him up into my lap as he took his final breath. At that point, I felt that my life was over,” grieved Deeba.

“I’m at the end of my rope. My eldest daughter who is just ten years old weeps practically everday for Imran. Because I am unable to work alone on the fields, we have no source of money. To make ends meet, I am compelled to beg sometimes. Some of my neighbours occasionally donate charity in the shape of clothing and food.”

Deeba is currently unable to relocate due to financial constraints and continues to live in the same tent that was torn by the rocket that killed her son. Every night she lays awake, haunted by the sound of that fateful night and many more that followed.

Many Afghans, including Deeba, pray to see their loved ones again; they pray for peace and they pray for nothing but a normal life. They want nothing else but to live happily and in a secure environment with their families in their homeland. Like Deeba, countless displaced families now live in parks under the open sky, in make-shift shelters, in camps, and with families and host communities in bigger cities. Most of them lack even the most basic amenities such as health care, education, food, and shelter.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) and partners have so far identified 4200 internally displaced families, of which 286 have been recognized as particularly vulnerable families in need of basic necessities urgently – like Deeba and her family. So far, CWSA has been able to support ten most vulnerable uprooted families with cash assistance. Further cash distributions to more families will continue as soon as banking restrictions are lifted in the country.

Community World Service Asia


[1] The names of the main characters of this personal account have been changed for security reasons.

[2] The jerib or djerib is a traditional unit of land measurement in the Middle East and southwestern Asia. It is a unit of area used to measure land holdings in much the way that an acre or hectare are.

[3] IDP=Internally displaced persons

[4] Eid ul-Azha is the latter of two official holidays celebrated within Islam (the other being Eid al-Fitr), honoring the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God’s command. 

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