The situation in my T. district in my province in north Afghanistan is better now than it was when the Taliban attacked Kunduz four months ago, but some of the districts are not secure at all. The Taliban are still here and they are still threatening parts of my province.

They hide themselves in people’s houses and force the families to say that they are family members. When the government says to the families, “Who are these people?” The families have to say what the Taliban told them to say.

They are pushing their way into people’s houses so they can stake a claim in my province against the government. They threaten the families to keep quiet and not say anything about the Taliban in their houses. They take the families’ food, and then they take their houses and sometimes they rape the daughters and wives.

People here don’t feel safe to go out at night and in some districts there are so many Taliban, people are not safe during the day either. There are police in district centers, but no police in the other areas. Very few people are out at night in the city center. But I can still go out in the daytime to shop.

In Kunduz province, my brother told me they hear gunfire at night, but it is safer during the day. The schools had reopened after the attack by the Taliban on Kunduz in October. The boys were able to take their school exams, but not the girls because it was too unsafe with the Taliban. But the schools are closed now for winter break.

The way to Kunduz is not safe. When I was traveling recently from Kabul to the north at night I was afraid. When it gets dark, there are thieves. Some people say these thieves are the Taliban. They wait for the cars to pass and then they force the travelers to give them their mobiles and money and jewelry.

I was afraid of the thieves, but fortunately on the night I was traveling, there were none. I was so thankful to Allah to arrive home safely. Most people don’t travel at night, especially not to Kunduz because the way is not safe.

Last week, my neighbor was traveling to Kabul by passing along that road and thieves stopped their cars and forced everyone to give them their mobiles and money and jewelry. My neighbor was able to hide his mobile in the car, but he couldn’t hide his money and the thieves took 20,000 Afghani from him. Then they asked where he was going and when he replied “Pakistan,” they gave him back 3,000 and didn’t hurt him. But they searched all of the travelers’ pockets and took their money. One boy traveling in the car had just sold his house and was carrying the money. The thieves took it all and then beat him up. This was a terrible story. I was sad for them, especially the boy who sold his house.

My father tells me about the important things happening so I can write them. One Taliban boss forced people to say the Taliban staying in their houses were family members. In my city there are now many families coming from other places for safety. There’s one particular district that is no longer safe at all because of the Taliban and the families who fled from there all say that Taliban forced them out of their houses. My neighborhood has five new families from that district. Other families who left their houses now are living in the city.

It has been a difficult winter. The northeast provinces are agricultural regions with big rivers. But the farmers don’t have the equipment to use the river water for cultivation, so they rely on the rains and there has not been enough rainfall this year. People worry about losing the corn crop. In many places there has not been snow. On top of the security problem, people are very worried about the economy.

By Aida S., age 15

Photo by Basetrack 18