Afghan businessman launches campaign to help displaced living in Kabul's parks

Afghan businessman launches campaign to help displaced living in Kabul's parks
2 min read
12 August, 2021
With little government help for the 17,000 families who now sleep in makeshift tents in Kabul’s park, Wafi T. Latifi, a businessman who owns cafes and shopping centres in the capital, said he has undertaken a campaign to deliver urgent help.
In the past few days, Wafi Latifi says he has employed a chef to cook meals and fed hundreds [Courtesy: Wafi T. Latifi]

A businessman in Kabul has launched efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghans who have fled conflict in the country's north and are now sleeping in parks and open fields in the capital.

Tens of thousands of internally displaced peoples have arrived in Kabul after being caught in the crossfire in provinces such as Kunduz and Badakhshan, whose provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban in rapid succession.

The insurgents have besieged Mazar-i-Sharif, and its fall would signal the collapse of government control in the north, a former anti-Taliban bastion.

With little government support for the estimated 17,000 people who now sleep in makeshift tents in Kabul's park and on the streets, Wafi T. Latifi - a businessman who owns shopping centres and cafes in the capital - has undertaken a campaign to deliver urgent aid to those in need.

"The refugees lack the a-z in terms of basic supplies - clothing, shelter, food, water, and cash. There is no milk for babies," Latifi tells The New Arab.

In the past few days, he has employed a chef to cook meals and feed hundreds of homeless. Videos shared with The New Arab show volunteers packing Qabuli Palou - Afghanistan's national dish - into food containers for distribution.

The immediate concern for the refugees is water, Latifi tells The New Arab. So far, water has only been distributed in bottles and storage tanks and the businessman says there is an urgent need for mobile toilets in the parks. In Shahr-e-Naw park, two toilets serve 400 people.

Latifi, who travels between London and Afghanistan, encouraged the Afghan diaspora to show support for charity initiatives and thanked friends who had donated to his cause.

With a British passport, he said he was more worried about ordinary Afghans and his workers who can not leave Afghanistan if the situation gets worse. 

According to a US intelligence assessment, Kabul could fall to the Taliban within 90 days.

"I have colleagues, they have no means of leaving the country. I feel for them and for them, I cannot leave. I will stay for as long as I can," he said.