Amir’s letter

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

This is an image of an Afghan IDP (Internally displaced people) family living in the outskirts of Kabul. With the continued war and violence going on where they live, they decided to pack up their belongings and move to the ‘relative’ safety of the capital. The mud houses with plastic covers as roofs are warm and filled with flies. Dust everywhere. A small room of 3 by 5 meters is home to a family of 7…

Hoping to one day return back to their villages, they now live in horrible conditions and try to survive as best as they can. They men and boys try to find work as day laborers and the women take care of the children and food. School is only an option for some children and the quality of the schooling is not up to par at all…

The year 2011 was the most violent year since the collapse of the Taliban in 2001: the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) recorded a rise of 69 percent in security incidents in 2010; in 2011 it reported again a rise of 20 per cent in security incidents on top of the 2010 increase.37 This boils down to 2.000 incidents on a daily basis according to Unicef.

More suicide attacks, improvised explosive devices (IED’s),  kidnappings and attacks on schools, health centres, etc…  Consequences for children are huge and the caused trauma of living in a constant state of fear is immense. So many families choose to leave Afghanistan al together.

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

Just yesterday I saw an item on the Belgian news on rights of asylum seeking children or better said the lack thereof. Families and organizations protested and want the Belgian government to take the interests of children within asylum procedures into consideration so the children involved would get heard as well.

12 year old Amir has become the face of this protest with a letter he wrote in name of asylum seeking children who want to be listened to. Rightly so he asks in the news how it can be safe for children in Afghanistan, when it’s not even that for soldiers who can defend themselves.

16 year old Sonam rightly says that Afghanistan isn’t safe, especially for girls and women, who cannot go to school there and face various forms of gender based violence. Here she has already learned Dutch and some English and is getting opportunities she can only dream of in Afghanistan.

It’s appalling to hear that there is an article in the Belgian constitution on children’s rights, but that this doesn’t apply to children without official papers/permits who are in the asylum seeking procedure… And already Belgium has been reprimanded by the European Committee for social Rights about the way our country treats underaged asylum children.

So Amir and Sonam take to the streets, are demanding to be heard and continue to fight for their future with the hope of staying in Belgium.

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2 thoughts on “Amir’s letter

  1. Zonder je tekst te lezen wil ik je wat schrijven.
    Ik kan me moeilijk inbeelden hoe het voelt deze beelden te zoeken, om mensen te begrijpen, om te luisteren, om te beleven.
    Veel respect voor dit. Je visie op het leven en je manier van kijken wordt hier zeker en vast mede door bepaald.

    • Lieve Tom,
      Zo ontzettend bedankt voor je mooie woorden. Het doet echt deugd te lezen dat mensen je werk en dus jouw kijk op de wereld waarderen.
      Het maken is vooral een intuïtief proces waar jij denk ik ook van kan meespreken…
      Het mooiste aan fotografie is en blijft dat het ons oog is op de wereld, hoe wij kijken naar wat er rondom ons gebeurt en hoe we dat beleven.
      Ik ben echt blij dat het bij jou ook iets raakt.

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