Now, the country has hit another milestone: For the first time since 2002 and the beginning of the current war in Afghanistan, the country has a negative migration rate — more Afghans are leaving than returning.
And how does this exodus compare to previous ones? Maybe the biggest ever:
Marco Boasso heads the International Organization for Migration office in Afghanistan. He says concrete data about the numbers of Afghans leaving today are hard to come by, especially given the criminal nature of trafficking.
“What we do know is that the arrivals in Europe are unprecedented,” he says, noting that arrivals in Europe during the Soviet occupation and civil war were just 20 percent to 30 percent of today’s numbers.
Meanwhile, the Taliban’s suicide bombers remain busy:
Taliban suicide bombers assaulted a large coalition airfield in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, sparking a two-hour gunbattle that drew in helicopter gunships and resulted in the deaths of numerous attackers, a handful of the base’s Afghan security guards and as many as four doctors whose car was caught in the crossfire, Afghan officials and witnesses said.
The only good news on this topic this week came from an unlikely place–the U.S. Senate:
Reflecting a war-weary nation, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday for an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan after more than a decade of fighting.
The strong bipartisan vote of 62-33 sends a clear message to President Barack Obama and the military as they engage in high-stakes talks about the pace of drawing down the 68,000 U.S. troops, with a White House announcement expected within weeks.
One vote won’t end the war. The real question is this: will the Senate actually vote to mandate a withdrawal by a date certain that is earlier than the one given by the Obama administration? Is the Senate willing to fence funds in such a way that they can only be used for the expeditious withdrawal of U.S. troops?