200,000 Kuchis Nomads trapped in Afghanistan in need of assistance

News and Press Release
Originally published

The Kuchis are the nomadic Afghan tribe. They are disadvantaged in terms of access to education, health or livelihood opportunities.

Khost province is part of the transitory route of the Kuchis over winters from East and Central Afghanistan into Pakistan (FATA, KPK and NW Frontier). The families travel with all their belongings, including livestock. This year, after reaching Khost, the Kuchis have found themselves trapped, as Pakistan has closed the border crossing, and in need of urgent assistance [1]. They are currently stranded living in open areas – without adequate shelter – and unable to return to their native Afghan provinces until the weather improves.

According to The Kuchis’ Department in Khost, there are about 200,000 nomads stranded in Khost, mainly in Matoon, Alishir, Sabari, Gurbuz and Jaji Maidan districts.

The Kuchis are totally dependent on their livestock to meet their basic needs. Stranded in Khost, with insufficient grazing land and unused to the winter months, livestock have increasingly fallen ill or died. Even healthy livestock has been lost – as many Kuchis have been forced to sell their animals in order to survive (which has inadvertently increased supply and therefore reduced the price of animals from $250 last year to $175 this year). As a result Kuchis – who rely of dairy products and wool from their animals – are unable to provide for themselves. Furthermore the loss of these animals will have a long-term impact on the Kuchis’ livelihood as the breeding of animals is the only profession they have known.

Other livelihood opportunities in Khost are few and wages low. Some of the Kuchis have tried to earn a living through daily wage labour, but they must compete for the few opportunities with the local communities and other IPD populations. In addition daily wages are often insufficient to provide for their most basic needs. Others have found work in the stone mines in Khost. However such work is physically challenging, particularly given the traditional pastoralist livelihoods of Kuchis and is low-paid due to labour-market saturation.

The psychological pressure is enormous. Apart from being forced to change their life-style and provide for the families, they live under the permanent danger of eviction from the government land. Neither their leaders nor the government are able to respond to their requests to cover the basic but pressing needs.

An urgent response to the needs of the 200,000 Kuchis stranded in Khost is required including:

  1. Firewood for winterization and winter shelter;

  2. Safe drinking water;

  3. Food and nutrition as their stocks are almost depleted and their diet is defiance in nutrients;

  4. Healthcare;

  5. Psychological support;

  6. Veterinary services for livestock

For more information contact

[1] The need assessment was done by The Johanniter International Assistance (Dr.Mirza Jan Hafz, Programme Manager – Health & Vijay Raghavan, CD) with the support from ACTD