Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Held in bonded labor, Afghan returnee children make bricks for a living

"I am eight years old. I make bricks with my father and younger brothers," said Samina, when handed the phone by her father. "We sleep here in this brick factory site at night and we work here during the day."

Samina's is one of thousands of Afghan families streaming back to their home country at unprecedented rates.

The flow of returnees from neighboring Iran and Pakistan this year, estimated by the U.N. to number more than half a million, is straining the capacity of the government and aid agencies to provide help as winter approaches.

Even as violence uproots more Afghans around the country, the returnees keep coming, many of them citing harassment by Pakistani authorities as relations between the two countries have deteriorated.

"The police hounded us in Pakistan, making life almost impossible. They would arrest Afghans on the streets or on work sites," Samina's father, Lalzaman, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. 

"Our house here was destroyed in the years of war," said Lalzaman, 50. "There is nothing left in our village to go back to."

Aid officials in Pakistan encouraged Lalzaman to return to Afghanistan, saying he would receive an "incentive package" including cash, kitchen utensils and food.

But so far he says he has received nothing. He and his family are working as bonded laborers to pay back the 28,000 Pakistani rupees ($270) the brick factory paid the truck driver. - Read More

Held in bonded labor, Afghan returnee children make bricks for a living


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