The war in Afghanistan did not start in 2001 with the US invasion. It began 30 years ago in December 1979, when the former Soviet Union invaded the country. The human toll of the conflict is staggering: more than a million Afghans have been killed and 3 million maimed.
Five million (one third of the pre-war population) were forced to leave their country and became refugees. There are still 3.1 million Afghan refugees today, making up 27 percent of the global refugee population. Most of them live in Pakistan. Another two million Afghans were displaced within the country. In the 1980s, one out of two refugees in the world was an Afghan.
Most Afghans alive today have seen nothing but war.
Daily life in Afghanistan is miserable. Only six percent have electricity in a country which gets as cold as Chicago in winter. Even in Kabul, the country's capital, electricity comes for only a few hours a day. Traditional wood heating is difficult since not much wood is left in Afghanistan after 30 years of wars and forest devastation. Over 1,000 people died because of cold weather last year.
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