Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Going Home to a War Zone

Life is tough for civilians in Garmseer as fighting continues.
By Sefatullah Zahidi
Sefatullah lives in Lashkar Gah, but his family still lives in a village in Garmseer, where almost every day there are battles between Taleban and government forces. Every week, Sefatullah makes the trip back home by bus. It’s a harrowing journey.

Today, he lets us accompany him.

As we approach Garmseer, the bus driver puts on a tape of “Tanana”. I’m on my way back to my village and I’m very afraid. I have a big turban on my head and a tape recorder strapped to my leg.

Along the way we’re stopped by a Taleb with a turban covering his face. He searches everyone. Luckily he does not find the tape recorder, but he does slap me. I am very relieved when I get home.

My family are happy to see me but they look afraid.

My brother Assadullah is feeding the chickens. He says people in the city have it easier than in the village,“There is no bombing in the cities. People can sleep quite soundly. They live very well. But brother, we are very tired of this bombing and fighting.”

Two years ago, when I lived here, all the schools were working and pupils were going there. The farmers were working on their farms. Today, everything is different. The once crowded town of Garmser is no longer full of people – the whole town has been destroyed. People can’t even walk in the town.

Jan Mohammad, a resident of Garmseer district, lost his two sons and his house in the bombings. He’s living in an adobe house with a lot of holes in it.

“They destroyed our houses, they killed our children and our animals. When they bomb a place, everything is destroyed. We are caught between the Taleban and the government,” he says.

Residents of Garmseer are harassed by both Taleban and government. Others seem just as afraid as Jan Mohammad, who says that when the bombings start, they all hide in water canals but they can’t hide from the bombs.

Not many people live here now. Those who do are in constant danger. Residents are faced with unemployment on the one hand, their lives are in danger and on the other hand.

Sardar Mohammad says there is neither work nor peace here.

“We are not able to continue with our lives. The bombing stops us living our lives. We can’t sleep. There’s bombing at night and during the day,” he says.

Sefatullah Haridi, for IWPR in Helmand.

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