Kabul’s new drug crisis
Afghanistan, which already faces a huge drug addiction crisis, must now confront a new challenge – addicts deported from Iran and Pakistan threatening to swamp its meagre rehabilitation resources
Courtesy: The Guardian
VOICEOVER: In the shell-smashed complex of Kabul’s old Russian Cultural Center, destroyed during Afghanistan’s long civil war, Ali Rasa injects himself with heroin. It’s the first of four times. He’s a lifelong addict and refugee. Like thousands of others, he was deported from Iran when he first became addicted.
ALI RASA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): It has been two or three years I have been in Afghanistan, and now I am stuck. I have forgotten my home and my family. My home and everything is in Iran, while I sleep here … on the streets … like a stray dog.
VOICEOVER: Ali Rasa’s story is not unique. This center is where the city’s homeless addicts congregate to shoot up and smoke. While young men play cricket and soccer among the ruins, the addicts lie slumped in its grounds or stagger through the rubble-covered ruins, basements, and passageways.
INTERVIEWER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): What are you looking for?
MAN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I am looking for some gear.
VOICEOVER: They look for syringes and dropped drugs or smoke heroin in the empty turbine tubes that once powered this place.
RASA: I was deported to Afghanistan after being caught taking drugs. When I crossed the border into Afghanistan, I thought what a haven for drugs.
VOICEOVER: A five-minute drive from the shell of what once was the center’s symphonic hall, a handful of the lucky ones have a bed in a rehab center. Every one of them, like Ali Rasa, has been deported from Iran.
DR. TARIQ SULEIMAN, NEJAT CENTRE: On a daily basis, the problem is increasing due to the return of refugees coming from Iran and Pakistan, especially the young generation. For example, now we have some people admitted to our program. This group was deported from Iran.
VOICEOVER: The problem of the returning refugee addicts, says Dr. Suleiman, is swamping Afghanistan’s meager drug-treatment resources. Of the several dozen addicts we spoke to in the cultural center, only one was not returning from Iran.
MEN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The Iranians asked why we weren’t going back to our country. Why have you taken over our country? Why have you taken our jobs? They deported us without feeding us.
VOICEOVER: And for some like 27-year-old thief Rarib, the experience has been almost unbearable.
RARIB (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): If the police or anybody tries to give me a hard time, I would take a razor and cut my throat.
VOICEOVER: Rarib has already tried to cut his wrists.
RARIB: I was told Afghanistan was a better place … that it had become like Europe, and that it would provide jobs and rehabilitation for addicts. I will be deported back if I go to Iran … or if I go to Pakistan I’ll have to join the Taliban. There is nothing for me here.
VOICEOVER: With little hope of a bed in Dr. Suleiman’s clinic, most of these men are trapped.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.