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“I am called sister of Afghan Greeza,” Tajik lady

Fleeing another highly expected season of war as peace process remained still ambiguous, hundreds of desperate Afghans crossed border with Tajikistan to seek refuge and find a safe haven to survive.

Recent insurgency from the Taliban group and other terrorist networks that resulted in the death of tens of civilians, with the latest incident that killed at least 60 people, mostly schoolgirls, west of the capital, made Afghans deeply skeptical about the ongoing sluggish peace process.

At least two flights a week, packed with Afghans families, land at the Dushanbe International Airport, during the still COVID-19 lockdown that closed ground-ports between the two countries.

Most of them collect their properties and send through Shir Khan Port to the neighboring country, where the prices recently skyrocketed.

“I am called sister of the Afghan Greeza,” said Havasmo Mohammadullo, a Tajik lady who spent years of her life to welcome and serve Afghan refugees, during a desperate time when the rent of houses and other prices are on the hike in Tajikistan, where they receive no aid from the UNHCR – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Havasmo who is leading a wide residential areas of mixed local Tajiks and Afghan refugees in Shahr-e-Wahdat Township, said she doesn’t hesitate to serve Afghans and treat them as her own Tajik citizens.

Welcoming Afghan refugees to one of the main Afghan refugees’ colonies – Shahr-e-Wahdat, a newly developed township, 30 kilometer east of Tajik capital Dushanbe, Ms. Havasmo said she resisted Tajik property dealers to rent houses and flats with reasonable prices for the Afghan refugees – locally referred to as ‘greeza.’

“Over the past several years of civil war, thousands of Tajiks households fled and sought asylum in the neighboring country of Afghanistan. The Afghans treated them well, provided them with shelter and food, so this is injustice to not do something for them, when they are now destitute in our country,” Havasmo, who was grateful for President Emamali Rahmon for ensuring full security of her native country, told The Kabul Times correspondent, following a visit to Dushanbe.

She quoted some fleeing Afghans she met in the township as saying: “A Taliban flag was seen raised over one of their checkpoints in Jar-e-Khushk, a vicinity of Baghlan-e-Markazi district in the country’s northern Baghlan province, where the militants regularly investigate into all passenger busses for anyone working for the government, especially those work as security personnel.

On the third day of Eid al-Fitr, tens of families along with their children, queued alongside the highway to stop a vehicle to take them to a secure area. Some, on condition of anonymity, said they have abandoned their houses as they feared fighting will resume once the three-day truth ends tomorrow.

“I don’t want to live in this country anymore. I wish I wasn’t born in this country,” wept one of the passengers, as she quoted. She didn’t want name them, as she said they didn’t want to return home, but wanted to live in Tajikistan, even if they could beg on the streets for survival.

According to her, most of Afghans left for Tajikistan, have also transported their house materials, but those with no floor or kitchen utensils, she has provided for them.

“Once a day, a hot verbal disputes happened between some local Tajik residents and Afghan refugees, here in Shahr-e-Wahdat, I settled it down peacefully, by cutting the throat of a hen with a good omen of putting an end to the dispute,” she said.

Even overnights Havasmo, along with one of her older sons, used to knock Afghan doors to have them, if have any problem she could solve, an Afghan refugee Bashir Ahmad said.

“Sometime, she meets with us sits with us and ask if we have had any problem. We call her the sister of the Afghan refugees,” said Bashir Ahmad Sultani, hoping once to return home after peace restored in his country.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) does not provide aids for the Afghan refugees leaving for Tajikistan.

Frustrated with long war in their country, they have to prepare everything on their own and impatiently wait for visa to leave for the third country.

  1. Makhdoom

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The Kabul Times.