INTERVIEW: Without functioning schools, many Afghans head to the mountains to eat

This article, part of an ongoing project at the Agence France-Presse, is based on interviews conducted in Kabul in December 2017, when the World Food Programme began emergency deliveries of emergency rations to reach desperately hungry Afghans.

The daytime security situation here remains precarious. One day this week, I walked the streets of the city seeking safe cover from the Taliban. Gunfire erupted, and for a few minutes, I found myself hiding in a cemetery in the central district of Gol Bagh. I soon got by to check some nearby shops and homes. Some were smashed. Some houses had been ransacked. But others were empty. No one had come for days. And no one was home.

Some people who had left their houses for the day were packing their food supplies and heading for the next town up the mountains. Others had returned to pack food for the coming days. Some were leaving already.

The threat of the Taliban remains palpable. Kabul residents are armed. I’ve found many men with Kalashnikovs and pistols at the back of their houses. Most, however, want to stay in and help those fleeing their homes because they are afraid the Taliban will sneak into their homes and kill them, or worse.

The Red Cross is operating out of a few isolated offices and is working under extremely hostile circumstances. Most of its staff, too, have also lost their homes.

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