Drug addiction, immigration linked to unemployment
KABUL (Pajhwok): Widespread joblessness in the northern province of Sar-i-Pul has forced youth to seek refuge in drug addiction, committing crime and leavi the country in droves, reveals a survey conducted by Pajhwok Afghan News.
Level of unemployment
A Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) survey conducted in 2012 found nearly eight percent of eligible people jobless in the province, but the number has increased in the past three years.
He has no updated information, but on the basis of loal data, the population of the province was at least 560,000, CSO provincial head Luqmani told this news agency
Up to 80 percent of youth remain jobless in the winter season, but they find work in Sar-i-Pul and other provinces like Jawzjan and Balkh in the summer, Siyad District Development Council (DDC) Chairman Faiz Mohammad says.
Unemployment is a serious issue in Sar-i-Pul and other provinces, agrees a resident of Tarkhoj area of Balkhab district, Hameedullah who graduated from the Law and Political Science Faculty two years ago.
For instance, he adds, 18 positions were recently announced by Rehabilitation Centre for Drug Addicts in the province. More than 300 applicants, including Hameedullah, submitted applications/resumes.
The Ministry of Labour, Social, Martyr and Disabled Affairs estimates the number of jobless Afghans at more than 4 million, an ever-growing segment of the population.
Declining foreign assistance and the withdrawal of international troops from the country are some of the main causes of joblessness in Afghanistan.
Since March, 2015, more than 10,000 passports have been issued to residents of Sar-i-Pul. Most of recipients were youth, says the passport department head in the province, Syed Noor Ahmad Sadat.
They have been issuing an average of 40 passports daily and most of the recipients intend leaving the country for Iran, Saudi Arabia and European countries in search of better living conditions, he confirms.
Shamsuddin (23), a university student from Sancharak district, dropped out and left for Germany due to economic problems. But he was captured by Turkish police and deported to Afghanistan.
“I have sold all my property, as I planned to settle in Europe. But lady luck didn't smile on me. Having no job, I don’t know how to repay my loans. I faced many problems on the way to Europe ... ” he says.
Habibullah, in charge of youth affairs at the Department of Information and Culture, deplores the government is doing nothing to address the joblessness issue.
Lack of job opportunities, high dowry rates, poverty and insecurity are forcing many of youth to leave the country or resort to drug addiction.
On the basis of recent media reports, nearly 160,000 desperate Afghans have sought asylum in the past one year in different European countries.
Director of Counter-Narcotics Hamidullah Hamid says no survey has been conducted to ascertain the number of drug addicts, but joblessness, insecurity and poppy cultivation are pushing many into addiction.
In 2015, nearly 1,000 hectares of land had been cultivated with poppies in the province, but this but the area under poppy cultivation has doubled this year.
Recently a 20-bed rehabilitation centre for drug addicts was built in the province and the Public Health Department will recruit staff for the facility in the near future, adds Hamid, who believes the initiative is insufficient.
In order to control drug addiction, he wants the government to provide work opportunities for youths. The number of addicts is increasing with each passing day.
Ghulam Ali (33), from Chilangam village of Sar-i-Pul City, complains he has lapsed into drug addiction due to joblessness and poverty.
“My father did take me to the rehabilitation centre. Following release from the facility, I found no work and relapsed into using drugs. Now my family members and friends hate me,” he notes.
According to the Counter-Narcotics Ministry, there are 3.5 million drug addicts in the country, known as the world's biggest producer f opium.
The acting police chief, Col. Anayatullah Habibi, says 243 people, including 213 men, 20 women and 18 children, have been arrested in connection with 180 incidents of crime since March 2015 in the province.
Twenty murders, 26 robberies, 48 injuries, six sodomy offences, five adultery instances and 75 different crimes are included in the 180 cases.
Police investigations show 80 percent of the cases occurred due to poverty and joblessness, he admits. If jobs are provided for the people, the crime graph will decline, he hopes.
A civil society activist, Naseer Kishawarz, suggests extraction from copper and coal mines in Siyad and the Balkhab districts be launched to create work opportunities for thousands of people in the province.
The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum reckons the copper mine in Balkhab district, discovered in 1993, holds 66.1 percent of pure copper in 400 metres wide and 5,000 metres long area.
In addition to the mine, a fuel extraction contract was awarded to a Chinese firm and an Afghani company called Watan Group in 2012, but the exaction worked was stopped after nearly eight months
Sar-i-Pul Governor Mohammad Zahir Wahdat confirms extraction work has stopped for unknown reasons, but the authorities are doing all they can to ensure its sumption at the earliest possible.
According to Wahdat, joblessness is a common issue across the country, where most of development initiatives depend on the security. They would try their best to provide work for the people, promises the recently-appointed governor.
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