Development News from Afghanistan

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Stick by Afghan refugees, author urges West

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By Hamid Shalizi

KABUL, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Millions of Afghan refugees who returned home after the overthrow of the Taliban desperately need help to rebuild their lives and are counting on the West, best-selling novelist-turned UN envoy Khaled Hosseini said on Wednesday.

Wrapping up a 10-day visit to assess the plight of around 5 million refugees who have returned from Iran and Pakistan since 2002, Hosseini urged the international community to pledge long-term commitment to his native Afghanistan.

“I think sometimes there’s a tendency in the West to think, wow, millions of people have come back to Afghanistan, things must be just wonderful and great,” Hosseini, author of best-seller “The Kite Runner” and goodwill envoy for UN refugee agency UNHCR, told Reuters in an interview.

“Often they have come back to very difficult conditions … there’s a lack of jobs, they don’t have homes, they don’t have land,” he added. “I hope that the West listens to their voice and stays committed to them.”

Hosseini, who lived in Afghanistan as a young boy but then went into exile with his family through the Soviet occupation of the 1980s and is now based in the United States, visited returnees in far northern Afghanistan.

“One of the main problems that people have is joblessness. That’s really at the top of everybody’s list of priorities,” he said.

He last visited Afghanistan in 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led defeat of the Islamist Taliban in 2001, and was struck by how the country’s infrastructure had developed in the interim.

But a Taliban insurgency is raging, there are near daily clashes and ambushes, suicide bombings are rising and over 7,000 have been killed since early last year.

So much so that a film based on “The Kite Runner” — a tale about the troubled friendship of two Afghan boys — due to be released later this year had to be shot in western China.

“There was some talk about making the movie here, but I think the studio had some concerns about security,” said Hosseini, whose second novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns” published earlier this year is also a runaway best-seller.

Promoting that novel, a story of two Afghan women thrown together by forced marriages to the same man, coupled with his work as a UN envoy are taking up all of his time.

And for his next novel?

“I haven’t started writing anything in terms of a third novel,” he said. “Mainly I have been touring for the second novel and now have become involved with the UNHCR office here in Kabul about the situation of Afghan refugees.”

Written by afghandevnews

September 12, 2007 at 1:20 am

Posted in Refugees

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