ANTWERP - The 40-year war in Afghanistan is pushing more and more Afghans to become refugees. Their numbers are also increasing in Belgium. In the port city of Antwerp, Afghans have become the fifth largest nationality group. Gie Goris went to Antwerp and listened to older and younger, male and female, Pashtu and Dari-speaking refugees and migrants from the war-torn country.

‘The Afghan community in Antwerp does not exist,’ says Hakim Nawabi. He fled the Taliban in 2000 and has been working for years as a counsellor in the asylum center in Arendonk. With his statement, Nawabi refers to the many differences and contradictions that divide Afghans: Pashtuns versus Hazaras, Dari speakers of different political persuasions, minorities versus majorities, recently arrived youth versus older people who have been here for several decades, conservative men versus women who want to spread their wings, former communists versus fundamentalists … These differences do not lead to real conflicts, but neither do they help shape one community that can be represented by a singular voice. Perhaps it is better to speak of the Afghan population, with all the differences that are implied therein: origin, socio-economic status, talent, philosophy of life …

Photo: © Gie Goris

Team members

Gie Goris

Gie Goris is a Belgian freelance journalist.

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