It’s Playtime…

Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK Newsletter
Fly Kites Not Drones 2017 COMPETITION!!! 

Big thanks to everyone who took part in Fly Kites Not Drones 2017.

Up and down the country groups held kite flying events in solidarity with children who live under the threat of weaponised drones, while raising awareness about the threat and psychological impact which drones cause to those living under them. 

Below are some of the entires for our competition, and it’s still not too late to enter…. the categories are:

– Best kite design
– Best kite flying photograph
– Best short film of your action (loaded to YouTube)

Email entires to by the 31st March
Prizes will be awarded for each category
 #FlyKitesNotDrones @VCNVUK
Some of the entries (so far) for the FKND 2017 Competition…

Kaballz for Peace
The Borderfree Afghan Football Team

There are now 20 players, of different ethnicity, who participate in the weekly training sessions organised by the Afghan Peace Volunteers Non-Violence Football team. 

They have been training for over a year and hope to overcome prejudices by getting the different ethnic groups to work together. 
– It costs £16.50 per week to hire training pitches
– Fortnightly practices for a year comes to £420, weekly practices £840

The APV Football Team is a creative response by young Afghan people who have chosen to not follow the status quo of violence and oppression, young people who have no experience of what it’s like to live in peace, but still strive towards that dream, and see football as a part of achieving that.
DONATE to the Borderfree Football Team
The Borderfree Afghan Football Team
Amir, age 20, Captain
Position: Defence

“I love football because it’s a group game. If there were prejudices before the match they fade away once we warm up and start playing. 

Sport is a good place for health and well being.”

Malik, age 17
Position: Right wing

“Football is a good game to teach the next generation, instead of playing with guns or getting into violence.

It’s a popular game which is interesting and challenging.”

Nurallah, age 17
Position: Defence

“It’s a game where everyone can participate regardless of their ethnicity.

Discrimination and prejudices are challenged when we work with other players on the team who are different ethnicities, it helps people overcome divisions.”

Sami, age 19
Position: Forward

“Since I was a kid we lived in an area with mixed ethnicities, and we always played together.
Whenever we play on the same team we all have the same goal and we need to work together, when we do it shows what we can achieve.

I think football can help to resolve conflicts as it shows how we can work together.”

Mahadi, age 19
Position: Defence

“It’s my favourite game because it’s good for our health and it’s a group game.

When people play together they become friends, ethnic division disappear, it reduces discrimination and creates friends.”

Barath Khan, age 20
Position: Centre Forward

“I feel so happy when I exercise, and that happiness goes into the game and the people I am playing with.

Our football team shows how the differnet ethnic groups can co-operate and get along to achieve.

I am proud to be a part of the Non Violence Football team.”

Watch the short video about the Borderfree Afghan Football Team

The ‘Kabubble’ is bursting

by Maya Evans (as printed for Labour Briefing

When I first visited Kabul in 2011, I thought it was a city on its knees. It had endured decades of war, starting with the Russians in 1979, followed by the Mujahideen civil war, crushing brutality under the Taliban and then the US/NATO invasion. At the start of ‘Enduring Freedom’ in 2001, the population of Kabul was 1.5 million. Today, with 13 refugee camps inside the city, its population stands at 5 million. Kabul’s already basic infrastructure, hugely stressed, can’t cope with an increased population. 

Recently referred to as the ‘Kabubble’, because it escaped direct fighting between the Taliban and foreign troops, the city viewed from high above can appear like a buzzing metropolis – racy, almost seductive from a distance, cars dodging around each other, a hive of activity under a thick fug of tan dust. But back on the streets, you realise why Afghanistan has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Each war has left its scar: bullet-riddled buildings, dilapidated Persian compounds, bombed out palaces, Communist housing and crumbling Soviet industrial buildings, fallen grandeur from the 1960s-70s peaceful hippy trail days. Potable water is increasingly difficult to access, burning rubbish for fuel stains the air and open street sewers ensure the population, daily, breathes high levels of faecal matter. 

Attacks by the Taliban and IS are now weekly. The Kabubble has expanded rapidly to accommodate soaring demand. At present it’s at bursting point and the prospects show little sign of relief.

The number of Afghans being deported back to Afghanistan has massively increased in the last year with many European countries deeming Kabul as a safe location for returnees – a policy based on the NATO narrative that post-2014 Afghanistan is ‘mission complete’. That line is hardly feasible, but since the country has dropped out of western media, most don’t hear about the weekly attacks within Kabul which normally claim between 20 and 70 lives. The most recent was an ISIS attack on a military hospital claiming the lives of 49 children, women, men and staff. As with many Iraqis today, many Afghans now half look back at life under a brutal authoritarian regime as a time which at least had stability.

In October 2016, the EU signed a deal with the Afghan Government obliging them to accept unlimited numbers of Afghan asylum seekers. A leaked memo suggested stripping Afghanistan of its aid if the government did not cooperate. Afghans constitute the second- largest group of asylum seekers in Europe, with 196,170 applying last year. Meanwhile neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Iran, have announced plans to remove Afghan refugees from within their borders, and estimates put that population at around 3 million. All will be returned to Kabul, a city which at best is crawling along.

To visit a Kabul refugee camp was one of the most extreme experiences of my life – crippling poverty, streams of open sewers, limited access to clean water, stoves fuelled by plastic and very little chance of escape. The camps are by no means a stop-gap for the 1.2 million internally displaced. 

As Afghanistan heads towards a fourth decade of war, the majority of Afghans have truly had enough. Those who can afford to leave do so. People have long given up on the US/NATO puppet Afghan government largely made up of those warlords who will cooperate with the international community. The Taliban are said to have gained control of 35% of the country in just over a year, and they are now being joined by ISIS which is reportedly spreading across the country while also carrying out largescale attacks within Kabul. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan recently reported an increase in casualties, with 3,498 civilians killed and 7,920 wounded in 2016. Severe poverty almost automatically creates high crime. For Afghanistan, within a decade, 7% of the population has become addicted to opium; warlords profit from this condition. 

The Afghan people have nowhere to go. They are trapped between a rock and a hard place. Foreign immigration policies don’t take responsibility for the repercussions of their bombs which leave families bereaved, homeless and displaced. The ‘Kabubble’ which is expected to receive a flood of refugees is already bursting. Peace is still a long way off.

Stop Deportation to Kabul

Sitting with the Afghan Peace Volunteers in the Border Free Centre in the Afghan capital, I picture a glossy advert: 

Kabul: central Asia’s best kept secret. 

“Will you miss out on the journey of a lifetime? Millions are flocking to take advantage of the Afghan haven. Free one way ticket on your 18th birthday.”

by Ellis Brooks

Kabul must have quite a draw given the millions of people its way headed. The secret is of course that almost none of them are travelling by choice. 

The UK government has fought hard to be able to deport failed Afghan asylum seekers, and now regularly charters flights to expedite the process. The Afghan government pleaded with the UK not to resume deportation; human rights organisations protested; the UN and World Bank said it would further destabilise the country; but the Home Office cheerfully began enforcing departures in March 2016.

Part of the basis is that, while the rest of the country is riven with increasing violence from the Taliban and Islamic State, Kabul is safe. Safe enough to deport you even if you have no family or friends here; safe enough even if you’re not from within 500 miles of the capital; safe enough even if you’ve only just turned 18 with no experience surviving in Kabul. 2,018 young people who arrived in the UK as child asylum seekers have been deported to Afghanistan since 2007.

But Kabul is safer than the rest of Afghanistan the way the frying pan is safer than the fire. Attacks and intimidation in the capital are frequent. Abdul Ghafoor, who runs Afghan Migrants Advice and Support Organisation (AMASO), told us “It’s not a suitable time to deport this number of Asylum Seekers back to Afghanistan.

“Kabul is no safe city…. They’re attacking ethnic minorities. The mosques are not the safe, the schools and educational establishments are not safe. Who are the victims? Afghan civilians.”

In this city, even day-to-day decisions like whether to attend a friend’s graduation ceremony or Friday prayers become a security question. Nationally, the war has worsened with 3,498 civilians killed in 2016 according to UNAMA.

There’s no economic security either. There’s already sky-high unemployment and more vulnerable people than can be supported. It’s not that the people in Kabul aren’t resilient; just to survive here takes more strength than I have. The Afghan Peace Volunteers themselves support hundreds of street children and poor families battling the odds.

But Kabul is a city of 1.5 million now accommodating 5 million people. Meanwhile, more than a million refugees from neighbouring countries are being sent back to Afghanistan. On top of this, in 13 camps around the city there are 1.5 million Afghan civilians displaced by violence. Amnesty International describe many thousands “in makeshift shelters, where overcrowding, poor hygiene and harsh weather conditions” lead to widespread disease. Many have died in the cold this winter. It is to this poor excuse for a haven that Europe is set to deport a further 80,000 people.

Abdul calls the deportation policy a “lose-lose situation” because European countries are spending millions to force out asylum seekers who, when confronted with the danger and vulnerability of life in Kabul, will migrate again despite the risks of making the journey.

At the knock-down rate of $4,000, you entrust your life to traffickers to get you over land and sea to get somewhere safer, even if only a little. Abdul described to us the abuse, enslavement and death such a journey risks, telling you all you need to know about how desperate you’d need to be.

In addition to the counsel and support AMASO offers, Abdul’s running a safe house for recent deportees to Kabul, but keeping up with the influx looks set to be impossible.

He’s asking European countries to re-evaluate their unreal attitude to Kabul in the light of the facts. “I went to a meeting inside the European compound and the officials were wearing body-armour,” he says. “So imagine how safe it is in Kabul.”