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Daily Evacuation Brief | February 27, 2022
Daily news about Afghanistan and the surrounding region powered by Operation Snow Leopard
LAST 24 HOURS:
The first shipment of wheat from India arrived in Jalalabad consisting of 2,500 metric tons.
The Afghan-Pakistan border remains closed since clashes last week. Afghans intending to travel to Pakistan via ground should check the status prior to departure.
Public universities in the ‘cold climate’ zones reopened.
Fuel prices spiked by nearly 5% overnight, and other commodities experienced similar rises. Rice was the exception and prices dropped about 3%.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
Police District 12 is expected to be the focus of house searches.
A Taliban and Pakistan delegation is expected to meet at the border to discuss economic concerns and steps to reopen the border.
The large security operation in Kabul and elsewhere around the country is expected to continue with more home searches and people being stopped at security checkpoints on the streets. At-risk Afghans are cautioned to minimize travel, avoid wearing clothing that denotes Panjshir ethnic ties, to conceal all their official documents, and to remove any prohibited items from their lodging.
BRAIN DRAIN CLEAR AS UNIVERSITIES REOPEN
CONTEXT: The remaining “cold climate” Afghan universities, including in Kabul, reopened on Saturday. Students report being pleasantly surprised by the general lack of changes to syllabuses and assigned professors. However, two major concerns remained. Firstly, the number of female students in attendance had dramatically dropped. Secondly, there was a shortage of lecturers, especially in women’s classrooms where only female instructors are permitted. In both cases, a large number of progressive students and professors are believed to have fled the country or be too afraid to return to campus.
Of note, although women are permitted on campus, they are segregated, not permitted into many common areas like the cafeteria, and compelled to wear a hijab, although burqas and veils are not required.
ANALYSIS: Even without formally banning women’s university education, the Taliban’s harsh policies have still managed to effectively reduce women’s access to education due to mobility restrictions, safety concerns, and fear of harassment or being targeted. The cost of women’s reduced university attendance is more than just personal tragedy. Afghanistan’s economy and development trajectory is negatively impacted. Although no formal estimates have been produced on the economic impact of women being less educated or less active in society, it has been estimated that women’s complete exclusion from the workforce would cost Afghanistan about $1 billion annually. Reduced attendance also impacts upcoming generations as less educated women mean poorer households and slows down the evolution of the economy since skilled workers are reduced.
Similarly, the exodus of the intelligentsia will hamstring both the economy, development efforts, and quality of education. Since universities often hosted the most highly trained and knowledgeable Afghans, their departure and concealment will drastically reduce Afghanistan’s human capital, thereby limiting economic growth and ability to innovate. Students’ learning experiences will also be negatively impacted due to staffing shortages, lower quality replacements, and being exposed to narrower points of view. Female students will be particularly impacted, given the dearth of female instructors
A generation of Afghan youth, especially young women, will have their futures negatively impacted until the Taliban are able to attract back wary faculty and students. However, this will not happen until students and professors know their lives are not in danger for slight differences of opinion.
If universities continue to function relatively well and the Taliban proves that it will not crack down on moderate academia, we believe that both female students and more moderate professors may begin to return to university, if they have not already left the country. However, it is not clear if the Taliban will be able to foster this trust while simultaneously continuing to conduct wide scale searches and crackdowns like they currently are.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 91.59 AFN (as of 27 FEB 2022)
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