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MOYE MUBARAK, Afghanistan: Seven months after he fled Pakistan for fear of deportation, Jan Mohammad marked the Eid Al-Adha holiday on Monday by struggling to feed his family, who still live in a tent in Afghanistan’s province of Nangarhar border.

“We spend Eid as if we were in prison,” the 30-year-old father of six told AFP.

“We have absolutely no money. We are still grateful to Allah that we are alive, but sometimes we regret that too. We can’t do anything with it. This year, and this Eid, I became completely bankrupt.”

He and his family crossed from Pakistan late last year, shortly after Islamabad’s deadline for Afghans without legal right to stay to leave.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have hurriedly packed their belongings to start fresh in their homeland, a place many of them have never seen before, in the months after the November 1, 2023 deadline.

But months later, many still haven’t found their feet.

Mohammad and his family lived in a tent camp in the Moye Mubarak area of ​​Nangarhar, along with other Afghan families who had recently returned.

He worked as a coach at a sports club in Pakistan but is now unemployed, unable to provide enough food for his family, let alone participate in the Eid Al-Adha traditions of buying new clothes or a sheep for ritual sacrifice or gathering with extensions. family and friends.

“My children do not have proper food to eat or clothes to wear (for Eid) or shoes, while children in nearby villages have good clothes and shoes. My kids want the same things. It is very difficult, but we are helpless,” Mohammad said.

“My heart breaks, I sit in a corner at home and cry.”

In a nearby tent, Sang Bibi is also holding on to a thread. Where other families would buy new clothes for Eid, she and her six children are rarely able to wash and beg for clothes to wear.

“We are really begging for the clothes of the dead,” the 60-year-old widow, the sole breadwinner of her family, told AFP.

“I have been in a terrible situation for the last two Eids,” she said, referring to Eid Al-Fitr, which fell at the end of the holy month of Ramadan in April this year.

The influx of returnees to Afghanistan, from both Pakistan and Iran, has come as the war-torn country grapples with economic, climate and humanitarian crises.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said last year that Afghans were the third largest group of displaced people globally, with an estimated eight million Afghans living in 103 countries by 2023.

The Taliban government, which took power nearly three years ago, has offered some support to the returnees but has struggled to cope with the increase.

“We want the government to help us by providing shelter,” said Sana Gul, who has been living in a tent with her husband and their two daughters since arriving from Pakistan.

In the days leading up to Eid, the markets were full of shoppers buying sweets and food for the holidays, with many families sharing the meat with poorer relatives during the feast.

But after spending years, if not their entire lives, abroad fleeing successive conflicts in Afghanistan, many returnees have few networks to support them.

“We don’t even have bread to eat,” said Gul’s husband, Safar.

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