In the next couple of weeks I want to talk to you about conflict areas globally. We feel like there is so many bad things always happening in the news, yet they only seem to look at the big things that seem to have some kind of relevance to the security of the country where the news are edited. Other conflicts and attacks may find their 50 words in a tiny column on page 5 or 6 of a news paper or in the last corner of the news website you are checking regularly, so I wanted to have a look at some of the numbers and conflicts that we may know about and sometimes wonder how they are still going on. To start off I want to give you three numbers from 2014: There have been 167,000 fatalities due to conflicts worldwide, there have been 40 ongoing conflicts and there have been 12,100,000 people registered as refugees . According to the Armed Conflict Database there are currently eight conflicts that are classified as high intensity conflicts which they define as follows: “frequent armed clashes (involving fatalities) between governments, government forces and insurgents, or among non-state armed groups”. For the purpose of this series I will only focus on those eight, which are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. I am going to go through it alphabetically, so today I am starting with Afghanistan.
This is a conflict area most of us have probably heard of before and to be fair I have found myself thinking, when watching the news, ‘oh my again’ but never properly registering it when there is a report about it. To me it kind of has always been around since I became consciously aware of it and to be fair it kind of has.
For me the conflict as we know it today started in 2001 when US troupes invaded Afghanistan. I remember hearing the news and stupid little things like walking home from school wandering if the planes flying above me would go to war. No idea why 7/8 year old me would actually wonder something like that. However, if you properly look into it there is a whole history of violent conflict and there has basically been very few calmer, less violent periods since the 1970s when Mohammed Daud started to seize power and later was assassinated due to internal conflicts between different groups in the country, all influenced by different outside forces such as the Ussr and the US. Trying to do research for this post, I was absolutely overwhelmed with all the information I found and trying to filter through and try to filter out certain bias by whoever shared that piece of information was a surreal experience. As I said for me the conflict has always been kind of around but if I am 100% I had absolutely lost sight of what was going on in Afghanistan.
I mean I remember the US lead invasion started because the US government wanted to end the protection of the in Afghanistan established Taliban government over al- Qaeda. But who are these two groups exactly. Like yeah I think we have all heard of them before but I feel like most of us know very little beyond that they exist and are associated with a lot of terroristic activity in the Middle East, but also worldwide. So let’s have a look at what stands behind those names of the groups I will focus on as if I talk about every aspect of this conflict I will end up writing a dissertation and not a blog post.
The Taliban are an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan which was founded in 1994. They were a dominant group in the Afghan civil war and started to gain more and more support. In 1996 they took over the government and had control over it until the American invasion in 2001. In that time they enforced the Sharia law, which you might have heard of quite a lot recently due to the Islamic State. In their time of reign they reversed a lot of laws that had been modernised and employed laws such as that women weren’t allowed to do sports and that men had to wear beards and head coverings. After the US invasion they became an insurgency and they started to train young boys and men to become fighters of the Taliban. Despite seeming relatively quiet in the news currently they are still very much an active terror group and according to Amnesty International they claimed responsibility for over 1000 civilian casualties .
The second group that is associated with the conflict in Afghanistan is al-Qaeda and again I assume that most of us have at least an idea what it is, but again let’s have a closer look. They were founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden, a name I guess all of us have heard before. They are a Sunni Islamic militant group who are responsible for some of the biggest terror attacks on civilians and military of our generation such as 9/11 and the 2002 Bali bombings. Unlike the Taliban, who are relatively local, there are many sub-groups of al-Qaeda spreading worldwide in different countries. Their ultimate goal is it for the global markets to collapse, which they predict will lead to a political instablility and they will make the world a better place.
The foreign troupes that were stationed in Afghanistan have mostly left the country with only few NATO troupes remaining, however the conflict is far from over. According to an article by the New York Times  from April 2016 there have already been 2,000 casualties and 80,000 people displaced in 2016. In this case casualties mean injured and dead, however the number is still incredibly high and what is extremely scary is that 1/3 of those injured are children. However not all of it can be blamed on extremist groups as the report by the UN accounts about 19% of the casualties to the Afghan government.
I wanted to write this post and this series to, firstly, raise awareness that yes there are many conflicts and many many deaths that happen daily in regions worldwide. But I also wanted to go back to the discussion about refugees you see everywhere. The people fleeing their countries such as Afghanistan don’t do it because they think it’s an amazing idea to go to Europe, America, neighbouring countries or simply within the countries because they want a change of scenery. They often risk their lives to escape a horrible situation that we all can only hope to never have to go through. People need to understand that we need to greet those people coming to us with support because just look at this example from Afghanistan, they have lived in a basically immediate war zone for about 20 years and longer and if they chose to make the long journey to somewhere they deem save it is because they don’t see another option.
Please always be aware that there is always more to a person than the label refugee, they are people who have lost everything and will be grateful for support, no matter how big or small it is.
Lots of Love,