Unemployment tied to drug addiction among Samangan youth
AYBAK (Pajhwok): Widespread unemployment in northern Samangan province is seen as the principal reason behind youth’s involvement in a variety of crimes, drug addiction and migration in droves from the country.
Experts believe huge business and employment opportunities could be created in Samangan if investments are lured into exploiting its precious cement, coal and other natural resources.
A survey conducted by the Central Statistics Organisation (CSO) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPF) last year reveals 24 percent of eligible individuals are jobless in the province.
But CSO Director Mohammad Arif Amin told Pajhwok Afghan News the exact number of jobless people in Samangan had not been determined as yet, but the population of the province was estimated at 387,000 individuals.
Naqibullah Sharifi, director of youth affairs at the information and culture department, put the number of youth between 18 and 35 years at 60,000. He, however, blamed the government for not doing enough to generate jobs for them.
He referred to reports that link unemployment among most of Samangan youth to large-scale migration, different offences and drug addiction.
The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD)also called unemployment a big challenge for the unity government.
It says the decline in foreign aid and a surge in violence are a major blow to efforts at creating jobs. The ministry is working on short- and long-term plans to mitigate the unemployment situation.
Earlier, the National Workers Union (NWU) had said 16 million people in the country were eligible to work only three million had jobs.
Director of Refugees Abdul Ghafoor reveals around 500 youth of Samangan have migrated to European countries and another 700 went to Iran and Pakistan.
Many more are said to gone to Kabul and others parts of the country in quest of work over the past six months, the official says.
Abdul Khalil Javed, a resident of Khurram Bagh locality, says his son illegally migrated to Denmark three months back as there were no employment opportunity for him in the province.
He said his son completed 12th class and wanted to work somewhere, but there was no option except to send him to a developed country for work.
“I paid $4,600 to the agent to transfer my son to Denmark and hoped that if he gets a permanent visa there, it will help us a lot economically.”
Ministry of Refugees says 200,000 Afghans went abroad last year to seek asylum. Insecurity and growing unemployment led a large number of youth to leaving Afghanistan.
Counter-Narcotics Director Ghulam Sakhi Rizwani says no survey has been conducted to ascertain the number of drug addicts in the province. But according to conservative estimates, around 5,000 Samangan individuals are addicted to drugs.
He views joblessness as the major reason behind growing drug addiction in the province, where 70 percent of the addicts are youth.
The number of addicts in Samangan, where the illicit poppy crop has not been grown over the past decade and police have been trying to stop drug trafficking, is still smaller than in other provinces.
Dr. Jawad Ahmadi, head of the 20-bed rehabilitation centre, says 1,200 drug addicts, 74 percent of them youth, have been treated over the past five years. He also sees unemployment as a major reason behind the use of illicit substances.
Shafiullah, 30, a resident of Larghan village in Aibak, sold his land for 300,000 afghanis to get engaged after his rehabilitation. He travelled to Iran to earn money for his wedding.
He quit drugs after treatment at the hospital, but due to continued unemployment and other problem, he relapsed into addiction.
Police spokesman 2nd Lt. Munir Rahimi says 285 criminal cases were registered in the province over the past nine months. During the period, police arrested 498 people in connection with different offences.
The crimes include 31 murders, 44 robberies, a corruption case, seven mugging incidents, four kidnappings, 67 beatings, four sodomy instances, adultery and 120 other offences. Most of the detainees are young people.
Police investigation show 80 percent of the crimes occurred due to poverty and joblessness in the province. The crime graph will decrease if job opportunities are provided, he maintains.
A civil society activist, Najibullah Danish, thinks if water canals are constructed to bring agricultural land under irrigation, work opportunities will be provided for more most of Samangan residents.
The exploitation of coalmines and raw material for cement manufacture can also generate jobs, according to Danish, who says coal if is extracted professionally in Roi-Do-Aab, Dara-i-Sauf Payeen and Dara-i-Sauf Bala districts and a cement factory established in the province, thousands of jobs will be created.
If the coalmines are extracted professionally by coal enterprise in the north or by the private sector, job opportunities will be made available for thousands of people, agrees the director of mines and petroleum.
Eng. Abdul Latif Wahidi reckons there are more than 20 billion tonnes of raw material for cement production in areas as close 20 kilometres to Aibak, the provincial capital.
Up to 95 percent of material for cement manufacture is available in the province in the form of limestone, carbonate and coal reserves, he adds. If a factory is set up there, Samangan will produce one million tonnes of cement annually.
Local officials say nearly 10,000 people are working in the Samangan mining sector, earningthe government 2.5 billion afghanis a year. But the government has given only three mines to the private sector while the rest are dug up illegally and unprofessionally.
As a result of unprofessional extraction, much of the coal is wasted on the one hand and lives of workers are imperiled on the other. Many of the amateur minors have lost their lives over the years.
One canal was surveyed in Qachan Dara area on the outskirts of Aibak and another in the Khurram Salarbagh district by the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Rural Development.
But funds have not been set aside for them in current year’s budget, laments Mohammad Kabir Mukaramzada, sectoral services head for the province. The Ministry of Mines has been requested repeatedly for professional mining.
The leadership of the ministry has so far paid more attention to the extraction of small, medium and large-scale coal mines, especially by the private sector, says Ministry of Mines and Petroleumspokesman Mohiuddin Noori.
Most of the 57 engineers appointed recently have been sent to Samangan to properly manage the coalmine extraction process. He promises the ministry will let the government and provide sectorsexploit landmines under a long-term programmes.
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