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Survey: Afghans Feel Country Headed in Wrong Direction

Smoke bellows after a suicide car bomb blast attacked a military convoy in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Nov. 15, 2015.

A new nationwide survey of public opinion in Afghanistan reports 58 percent of Afghans say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The San Francisco-based Asia Foundation released its annual survey Tuesday in Kabul, saying that overall optimism has decreased across all Afghan regions.

The most frequently cited reason is insecurity (45 percent, up six percentage points from 2014), followed by unemployment, corruption in general, struggling economy and bad government.

The survey shows that 37 percent of respondents nationwide believe their country is moving in the right direction, down from 55 percent in 2014.

“This year, we see a sharp decrease in the levels of optimism among Afghans. This sharp decrease is the lowest percentage recorded in the 10 years of the survey,” an Asia Foundation official, Sayed Masood Sadat, told reporters in Kabul.

The survey polled more than 9,500 Afghan men and women representing 14 ethnic groups across all 34 provinces. The poll had a 1.6 percent margin of error.

FILE - Mullah Mohammed Rasool, the newly-elected leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban, speaks during a gathering in Farah province, Afghanistan.
FILE - Mullah Mohammed Rasool, the newly-elected leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban, speaks during a gathering in Farah province, Afghanistan.

Taliban reconciliation

It says that around 62 percent Afghans believe the government’s efforts to reconcile with the Taliban and other armed opposition groups will help stabilize Afghanistan, showing a significant decrease from 73 percent in 2014.

The Taliban, taking advantage of last year's withdrawal of NATO’s combat mission, has escalated and expanded its insurgent activities to more areas of Afghanistan than at any point in time since 2001.

With the deterioration in security and rising unemployment due to dwindling foreign financial assistance, the number of Afghans who want to flee the country for a better future has spiked in recent months.

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani told parliament Monday that insecurity and unemployment are forcing people to flee to the country. He added 146,000 Afghans have sought refuge in Europe.

Rabbani said that around 80,000 Afghans have asked for asylum in Germany in recent months alone, saying 43 percent of the cases have been accepted.

But he warned that pending cases and new arrivals may face serious challenges because Germany and other European nations have toughened their immigration policies.

The German embassy has also launched a campaign through social media and billboards in several major cities in Afghanistan, including Kabul, in a bid to discourage Afghans from undertaking journeys in search of a better life in Europe.

The campaign warns Afghans of false promises by human smugglers and urges them not to believe the “rumors and false information” about free jobs, immediate citizenship and welcome payments for refugees arriving in Germany.

The Afghan passport office this year has processed record numbers of new passports for Afghans seeking to leave the country, according to the survey. It said, "Starting in 2011, the survey has asked respondents if they would leave Afghanistan if given the opportunity. This year, 39.9 percent of Afghans say "yes", an increase from 33.8 percent in 2011, while 57.9 percent say "no."

Some information is from Reuters, AP and AFP.