Afghan officials fled to luxury homes and made millions suffer

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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In recent weeks, reports have emerged of Afghan elites and several former officials of the Western-backed government of Kabul escaping to luxury Dubai apartments and beachfront villas in California during the Taliban takeover of the country last August.

But tens of thousands of Afghans, who have also left the country, are still languishing in cramped refugee camps worldwide, while millions of others are starving at home.

Last week, over 1,000 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a powerful earthquake hit southeastern Afghanistan.

According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, former Afghan officials, including aides to former President Ashraf Ghani, they spent millions on buying properties in Dubai and the US during the last years of the Western-backed government.

A US watchdog said that millions of dollars disappeared from the presidential palace and the National Directorate of Security during the Taliban takeover last August. According to the watchdog, the money remains missing, although Ghani probably fled with millions of cash.

After he left Afghanistan, the former president moved to the world-famous five-star St Regis hotel in Abu Dhabi. He now lives in the UAE.

Tens of thousands of Afghans, who worked for US and NATO forces, were airlifted when US troops withdrew from the country after 20 years of war, but many of them are trapped in refugee shelters around the world with an uncertain future.

Corruption and misappropriation of funds

Reports of corruption within the Afghan government and misappropriation of funds in the largely aid-dependent country spotlight how Afghans — refugees and those in the country — have failed at their leadership.

“I gave the best years”of my life to rebuild this country, to educate the next generation of thinkers. And now here I am, vulnerable and unable to even support my own family. At the same time, those who have done nothing for the country live a comfortable life,” said Mina, a college”professor who wanted to be identified by one name.

According to the WSJ, former Afghan officials, including aides to former President Ashraf Ghani, have spent millions on buying real estate in Dubai and the US during the last years of the Western-backed government. [Facebook via AFP]

Mina built a career of more than ten years, as a respected professor and a prominent voice on women’s rights in Afghwomen’s. For security reasons, we’re withholding the we’reof her university.

Her work has been hit hard by the Taliban’s increasing rTaliban’sns on women. Many of her classes have been canceled, she hasn’t been paid for mhasn’t andhasn’t, often harassed by Taliban guards for going out without a mahram (male escort). Afghan girls are still banned from attending secondary schools, and women are increasingly excluded from public life, bringing back memories of the last Taliban regime of the 1990s.

The Taliban have struggled to revive the war-ravaged economy after the West imposed sanctions, with the US freezing nearly $10 billion in Afghan central bank funds following the withdrawal of US-led troops.

The financial crisis in the country has invaded her household and as h,er family’s sole breadwinfamily’sa struggles to make ends meet with a significantly lower and intermittent salary, with prices rising.

In the past ten months, she was only paid twice,, which was less than half of what she owed.

“A year ago cooking oi,” was 50 Afs [$.56] per kilo, and today it is more than 150 Afs [$1.69]† A bag of flour was 1600 Afs [$18], but now it’s over 4000 Afs [$4it’sI have not been paid in months and borrowed money to feed my family (her parents and her younger sister). But even people don’t want to lend me don’ting don’t” she said, adding tha” most days they split whatever meals they can get into two or more pieces so they can have something to eat later.

luxury homes

“We are starving and I”fe,el extremely hopeless, especially when I see those who left us in this situation living a comfortable life,” Mina, who lives in A”ghanistanAfghanistan Jazeera.

Fighting to survive

Meanwhile, Afghans forced into exile and struggling to survive watch painfully as corrupt former officials escape responsibility.

Dr. Kamaluddin Koshan was a journalist based in Kabul before the Taliban takeover. He later worked to become a doctor to serve his people but now lives as a refugee in neighboring Pakistan, often dependent on benefits and charities.

“I had a satisfying an” fair income, but I especially loved my work because it helped our country. I didn’t think I’d end udidn’t toddidn’tshan, 3 4, told Al “azeera, speJazeerafrom Pakistan, where he currently lives, after escaping Taliban threats to his job.

As a refugee, Koshan, the regional manager of the North Zone of Khaama Press, a major Afghan agency, now shares a small, dingy one-room space with his wife and three children, all under eight years old.

According to a European Union report released in May, more than 3 million Afghans live in Pakistan, 775,000 of whom are undocumented migrants, and most live in extremely inhumane conditions in informal settlements in the country. Most of them had fled because of the country’s last four decades of conflict.

As their savings run out, Koshan’s family struggKoshan’sake ends meet.

“I have no income to p”y rent, electricity, or gas. Food is also scarce, and there are days when we go to bed hungry. Sometimes my kids ask me for fruit, and I can’t even afford themcan’t sthem can’tusayn “n his voice.

In the 20 years before that, Koshan said, he had worked hard to achieve every goal he set for himself.

“I have also worked wi”h many NGOs and Afghan civil society to fight injustice,” he said beaming wi,th”pride as he told his life’s journey.

“Even life’sldren have”‘t been to schoolhaven’tnths because I can’t pay the school fcan’tEvery day they miss education; their future is at stake,” he said.

While threa”s frothreats Taliban forced Koshan into exile, he also blames corrupt Afghan officials for his misery.

“She [corrupt official”] looted everything that belonged to the country for 20 years. They appointed each other to positions of influence and then rewarded each other,” he said, his voice r”ised in angusedwithhere was so much nep”tism and autismrimination among the elites and absolutely no sense of loyalty to Afghanistan,” he said.

Milliofacea”e food insecurity

US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F Sopko expressed similar concerns in stark warnings in June 2021.

“Corruption in Afghani”tan is not  just a criminal matter. Systemic corruption in Afghanistan goes beyond that… a threat to the entire US mission and international effort in Afghanistan,” he said, warning the”Afghan government to “get serious” about ta”kling corruKling if it ever wants lasting peace for its people. Bring.

“Time is running out,””he had war ed, just “weeks before the collapse of President Ghani’s Afghan governmGhani’sre than 22 million Afghans face food insecurity as the country stares at economic collapse, according to the UN’s World Food PrograUN’s The diplomatic isolation of the Taliban has not helped the situation.

Khalid Payenda, the last Afghan finance minister, who was named in the Wall Street Journal report for owning real estate in the US, has denied the allegations.

He has shared his financial details and sources of his wealth on his Twitter handle.

Payenda, a whistleblower of several reports of corruption in the Afghan government, says the corruption problem in Afghanistan was widely known and even exploited by many networks and stakeholders.

“Corruption was endemi” in the sense that it existed not only at the national level, but also at the sub-national level, and within all branches of government, the executive, the legislature and even the judiciary,” he told Al Jazeera.

“ayenda shared similar assessments from his time within the government system.

“In one department, br”nging in just one million Afghani a month, far less than potential, it increased significantly under my tenure,” he said.

Local news “eports from last year confirm his claim, documenting an increase in customs collections – 330 million Afghans collected daily in June 2021, compared to 180 million Afghans daily in tvious quarter.

Koshan, who once believed strongly in Afghan democracy, is disappointed.

“I have regularly vote” in elvotedons and encouraged others to participate because I thought we could make a difference. But they lied to us,’ he said bitterly.

“T’ey toldTheyto work “or the country, even as they built lives abroad, and abandoned us when it got worse,” he said, referring t” the Afghan president’s August 15 president’s1 that caused the collapse of the country.

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