JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Nomads, locally known as Kuchis, in different parts of Afghanistan say they have been extended awareness-creating programs about Covid-19 pandemic, but remain deprived of aid from the government side.
Nomads in Kandahar say they received public awareness on Covid-19
Abdul Salam, 65, resident of Kandahar province, says like other people they are also aware of Coronavirus.
He said: “Initially I believed coronavirus is a lie because we didn’t know much about it, but after we heard about it from people, radio and doctors and when the number of positive cases and deaths increased, we realized that it is true.”
According to him, coronavirus has badly affected people’s lives as they lost jobs and their businesses affected and prices surged. “Neither can one buy anything for livestock nor food for themselves.”
Salam added: “A lot of aid has been announced for people during Covid-19 but we have not received anything, while the pandemic has made Kuichis’ lives more difficult and miserable than anyone else’s.”
“We don’t have a bit of meal, they tell us to wash hands with soap, use a mask, we need urgent assistance,” he added.
GhaniGul, 27, resident of GajKhano village in Kandahar city, said he did not believe in Coronavirus at first, but as the number of positive cases and patients increased, he believed in it and took precautions.
He told Pajhwok that Covid-19 made people’s lives miserable because their economic situation worsened and unemployment increased.
He added: “I used to work in a company’s warehouse, but a few months ago when quarantine measures were imposed, the owner of the company fired me, I’m still unemployed, our livestock business has also not been good, I can’t find grass and posture for sheep and no one has helped me.”
Gul said it was much easier to get information about coronavirus by calling someone on mobile phone. “While it is ringing the telecom firm tells you how to stay away from the virus and also radios provide information every day.”
Rozi Mohammad, 50, resident of Shorandam in Kandahar City, said Covid-19 had affected their livestock business.
He told Pajhwok: “We are nomads, our life is different from other people, Kuchis are more at risk than anyone else, but no one cares about us, or has helped us. The whole life of nomads is dependent on livestock, but they have nothing to feed their animals. The government must approach us with assistance.”
Mohammad Yaqub, 40, inhabitant of Kandahar, who had recovered from Covid-19, said: “It was very difficult, initially many nomadic leaders died of the virus, but people did not know it”.
According to him, the government has not provided any aid to them, nor has it done in the past, nomads have been facing a host of problems and they have no facility for livestock.
He said mobile doctors’ teams approached them and provided information about Covid-19 pandemic.
But Kuchis in eastern Nangarhar say they have not been extended public awareness about Covid-19.
JumaGulSultankhel, a nomad, told Pajhwok Afghan News that many nomads contracted coronavirus because they were not aware how to protect themselves. The nomads also did not receive the aid specified for poor people, he said.
He added most of nomads were uneducated and didn’t know how to protect themselves from coronavirus and they believed it was a common disease.
GulZaman, another nomad, claimed many nomads had lost their lives because of the government’s carelessness.
Nik Mohammad Arman, in charge of nomads’ affairs in Nangarhar, acknowledged the Kuchis had neither received aid from the Covid-19 fund nor from any other organization.
He said serious attention should be paid to nomads during the second wave of coronavirus and they should be assisted and made aware of the disease.
Dr. Abdul Rashid Wafaee, director of contagious diseases in Nangarhar public health department, said their awareness programs and services were for all and not confined to a specific ethnic group.
He said if nomads wanted special public awareness about Covid-19, they should identify special places and the department would provide similar programs for them.
Nomads in northern Balkh also complain about lack of awareness.
Abdul Khailq, a nomad in Balkh’s Chamtal district, said the government had not provided them with even a single afghani during coronavirus outbreak. He added he had repeatedly approached the authorities concerned for help, but no one heard his voice.
He said: “We have been hit hard by the coronavirus, there has been quarantine measures in place for months that had a negative impact on livestock sales, prices have gone up and livestock business has become very difficult.”
He said the government must hear their voice and provide them with urgent assistance.
Eng. Farooq Khan Obaidi, director of nomads in Balkh, said no assistance had been provided to nomads in the province the since the outbreak of the virus.
According to Obaidi, no one has assisted nomads with food during the first wave of the pandemic and they have not yet been included in the National Food Program.
Obaidi said Covid-19 had worsened the situation of nomads and affected their livestock. For instance, he said due to quarantine measures and rising prices, many nomads could no longer afford to buy food for their livestock. He urged the government to help the nomads by including them in the National Food Program.
Habib RehmanAhmadzai, director of Afghanistan’s nomads department, said nomads in different parts of the country had been provided with public awareness programs.
He added they provided awareness to Kuchis through administrative units, leaders, Kuchi councils and also distributed awareness materials among them.
He said: “The nomads have also suffered a lot due to coronavirus in terms of health and economy.”
Ahmadzai also said nomads had not been given adequate assistance during the outbreak of coronavirus. He said he had contacted the Ministry of Public Health several times and complained about it, but no action could be taken so far.
He had no information about the number of positive cases and deaths among nomads in the country, but revealed that a fewer number of nomads were infected and died than other countrymen.
MasumaJafari, deputy spokeswoman for MoPH, told Pajhwok Afghan News they had raised awareness about Covid-19 among all Afghans, including nomads.
She said mobile health teams from MoPH had provided Kuchis with awareness in different parts of the country.
She added Kuchis were one of the most vulnerable groups, so they were given priority in public awareness.
According to her, the MoPH has not directly assisted anyone, but has provided health services.
“This Investigative Report was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Pajhwok and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.”