In Wardak, the wounds of the war in Afghanistan

Par Ghazal Golshiri

Posted on November 30, 2021 at 5:21 a.m. – Updated on November 30, 2021 at 12:33 a.m.

Like many Afghan villages, Mamakhel, in Wardak province, located about 100 kilometers south of Kabul, has found a semblance of peace since the Taliban returned to power in August. “Here, the war had not stopped since 2006, and it stopped recently”, explains Naeem, a peasant with chipped skin from hours of toil in the sun. Supporters of the old regime, the Americans and their allies, present in Afghanistan since 2001, have left. For the time being, the only opposition to the Taliban comes from fighters from the Islamic State organization. While they carry out attacks in major cities across the country, they have so far spared rural areas.

“Before August, I cannot say that the fighting lasted from morning to night. Sometimes the Taliban would come to our village, shoot two bullets and take refuge in the mountains, remembers Naeem. The Afghan army, on the other hand, responded heavily with rockets, shells, and bullets were raining down on us. ” It is now a matter of memory. On this Wednesday in November, under a pale sun and an icy wind, many children, girls and boys, are playing in the streets of the village, which they have not done for a long time.

A school for girls

“Before, the boys could not go to school because of the firefight between the two fronts, remembers the villager. Today they’re going, and we’re not even worried anymore. “ Before the Taliban victory, Naeem’s two daughters stayed at home for lack of school for them in the village. Today, for the first time, they are taking literacy classes at the village mosque. The Taliban allow the education of Afghan women up to the age of 12.

In the village of Mamakhel, in the province of Wardak (Afghanistan), on November 10, 2021. A wall is covered with children's drawings representing scenes of war.

For his safety, Naeem had dug two large ditches on either side of his wheat and potato fields. “The size of a man, I took refuge there during the fighting. “ Pointing to the other side of the road, he adds: “Do you see this building? It was a military base of the Afghan regular army, when the fighting started, we no longer understood who was shooting at whom. ” Sometimes, with the gunfire raging, simply watering his field became a near impossible task. Now he cultivates land that was previously inaccessible because it was too close to the front line.

Read also “Afghanistan: living in a Taliban country”, on Arte: a village in Islamic times

But, if the shooting was silent, the wounds of the war are far from being closed. On one of the walls near the village mosque, children’s drawings show planes dropping bombs, tanks rolling between houses and men with their hands in the air and scared faces. Some of the village gates are still riddled with bullets. The paths leading to the village bear the scars of homemade explosive devices.

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In Wardak, the wounds of the war in Afghanistan

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