About Afghanistan and the Afghan Refugee Crisis | World Refugee Day 2020

Today we will be highlighting our Afghan community. Afghanistan is located in South-Central Asia, positioned along vital trade routes connecting Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The official name of Afghanistan is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with Islam being the official religion of the country. Nearly four-fifths of Afghans are Sunnis, and the remaining fifth is overwhelmingly Shi’i, leaving a one percent minority of other religions.

Photo by EJ Wolfson on Unsplash

Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic country with independent peoples. Two-fifths of the country are Pashtuns, approximately one-fourth are Tajiks, and the remainder is a combination of other various ethnic groups such as Uzbeks and Turkmen. This ethnic diversity contributes to linguistic diversity across the region. Over two-fifths of Afghans speak Pashto, while half speak a dialect of Persian. The Afghan dialect of Persian is known as Dari, and it shares some words with Turkish and Mongolian. The other Persian dialects spoken throughout Afghanistan include dialects related to Iran’s Farsi, or Tajikistan’s Tajik.

Afghanistan’s refugee crisis began in the late 20th century when anti-communist Islamic guerillas took on the Afghan communist government. The Afghan War lasted from 1978 until 1992 when the government was overthrown. During the war, the Afghan government was supported by the Soviet Union. By 1982, over 2.8 million Afghans fled to the neighboring country of Pakistan and 1.5 million fled to Iran to escape the bombs of the Soviet Union. After the war’s end and the overthrow of the government, the Taliban gradually took control of Afghanistan. Conflict continued due to U.S. invasion from 2001 until 2014, when the Taliban refused to give up Osama bin Laden to the United States.

Today, there are still 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees, not including asylum seekers. Amnesty International estimates that one in ten refugees are from Afghanistan. This shows that the plight of Afghan refugees is far from over, even after decades of escaping violence.

This is a very brief overview of the history and conflicts, and we encourage you to learn more about the Afghan community and the refugee crisis. To learn more about refugees from Afghanistan, we encourage you to visit Amnesty International. Please keep checking in throughout the week as we continue our countdown to World Refugee Day.

“Afghanistan's Refugees: Forty Years of Dispossession.” Amnesty International, 20 June 2019, www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/06/afghanistan-refugees-forty-years/.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Afghan War.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Nov. 2018, www.britannica.com/event/Afghan-War.

Weinbaum, Marvin G., et al. “Afghanistan.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2 June 2020, www.britannica.com/place/Afghanistan.

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