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Poll: Nearly All Afghans Say They Are Suffering

FILE - Hundreds of Afghan men gather to apply for humanitarian aid, in Qala-e-Naw, Afghanistan, Dec. 14, 2021.

A new poll indicates that nearly all Afghans, already tormented by decades of war and poverty, say their living conditions have worsened to the point where they say they are “suffering.”

“Ninety-four percent of Afghans rate their lives poorly enough to be considered suffering,” said the Gallup survey, adding the percentage was “not only a record high for the country, but also the highest Gallup has seen for any country since 2005.”

More than 2,000 Afghans ages 15 and up were interviewed in two rounds of questioning which was which was conducted inside Afghanistan between August 9 and September 29 of last year, Julie Ray from Gallup told VOA.

From food affordability to respect for women’s rights, the survey presents a bleak picture of an estimated 36 million Afghan population with little hope for their future.

Female respondents, in particular, rated their circumstances as dire.

While three in four Afghans cannot afford food for their families, according to the survey, the gender gap widened with 82% of women struggling to buy food versus 69% of men.

Since the Taliban re-took control of Afghanistan in August of 2021, the country has seen worsening poverty rates, and Afghans say respect for women’s rights has plummeted.

“For the first time in the history of Gallup surveys in Afghanistan, the majority of men in Afghanistan (60%) do not feel that women are treated with respect and dignity,” the poll found.

“People are absolutely desperate,” Stephen Carter, an Afghanistan expert at the London-based NGO Global Witness, told VOA. “They are literally facing starvation.”

To save lives and mitigate hardships, the United Nations has called for more than $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in 2022 – the largest single-country appeal the organization has ever made.

FILE - An Afghan girl warms up her hands as she takes a break from carrying water canisters, in Balucha, Afghanistan, Dec. 14, 2021.
FILE - An Afghan girl warms up her hands as she takes a break from carrying water canisters, in Balucha, Afghanistan, Dec. 14, 2021.

Taliban rejection

A spokesman for the ruling Taliban called the Gallup survey baseless and misleading.

“Spreading baseless reports of disappointments among people is the work of the enemies of Afghanistan,” the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, tweeted Tuesday.

Despite claiming they have restored peace in Afghanistan, the Taliban concede the country’s economy is grim but say that is a legacy of the previous U.S.-backed Afghan government.

Negative view of US

Many Afghans, 53% of those interviewed by Gallup, have said they want to leave their country permanently. Many want to move to the U.S., Canada, or another Western country.

The U.S. and its allies have evacuated more than 120,000 Afghans since the fall of the Afghan government last year.

The desire to move to the U.S. comes amid soaring disapproval of the U.S. – a record high of 84% - among Afghans, particularly since the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

“Afghans now view the U.S. in the same light as they do Russia,” the survey said, noting that disapproval of the American leadership has risen to a record 84% — even higher than the 76% who disapprove of the Russian leadership. Afghans “are relatively more positive about the leadership of Germany and China, but few approve of any foreign leadership,” it said.