By Marina Villén
Tehran, Oct 1 (EFE).- Uprooted by conflict and forced to flee the Taliban, Afghans in Iran share the trauma of displacement and find it hard to start their lives over in a country that is already overwhelmed by refugees.
“We came without a passport, illegally, smuggled,” Azize dor Mohamad, an Afghan woman, told Efe in an interview held in a southern Tehran neighborhood.
Originally from the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, Azize decided to flee with her six children, the youngest just two, after the Taliban captured and killed her father, who had been in the military. The Taliban confiscated all of the family’s properties.
From her home city of Khan Abad, Azize first escaped to Kandahar in the south of the country, and when the Taliban seized control of Kandahar, she headed to Iran, a country that hosts more than 3.5 million Afghan refugees.
Some 90% of the roughly five million Afghans who have fled their country in recent decades have sought shelter in Iran or Pakistan, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR). More arrive every day.
Nur Mohamad Ahmadi also fled when the Taliban entered her city, Shakar Dara, out of fear that the extremist group would commit atrocities and to protect her four children.
Nur showed Efe the bruised nails she got as a result of long periods of walking and spoke about how her group was forced to run on a number of occasions to avoid detection as they tried to escape Afghanistan.
The 36-year-old, who fled with her eight-month-old baby, said her family spent all of their money to pay smugglers to bring her first to Pakistan and then to Iran, a journey of two weeks.
“We were scared. It was said that the Taliban came and kidnapped girls to marry them and boys to make them fight in the war,” Nur said from Farhang school, a small center of education in Tehran whose students are all Afghans.