Time and location

Monday, 5 November 2018, 19:00 – 21:00
Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Festsaal
Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Vienna


Suraya Pakzad
Director, Voice of Women Organization (VWO), Herat, Afghanistan

Emal Haidary
Journalist, Agence France-Press (AFP), Kabul, Afghanistan

Ali Ahmad

Moderation: Michael Fanizadeh, VIDC
Welcome: Sybille Straubinger, VIDC

Languages: English and German with simultaneous interpretation

Anmeldung: fanizadeh@remove-this.vidc.org

Back to Afghanistan

© Noorullah Shirzad
© Noorullah Shirzad


“Afghanistan remains to be a milking cow for Afghan politicians and the neighboring countries. Returnees have turned to a good business for them. The only way to end the refugee and migration problem is to end the war in Afghanistan.” (Fatana Gilani-Director of Afghanistan Women Association). This quote is from a recent VIDC analysis of labour market returnees in Afghanistan and sums up the current issue: Afghanistan is not safe and, despite this, hundreds and thousands of people return there.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), between 1st January and September 2018 more than 570,000 people left Pakistan and Iran for Afghanistan, or were deported.  To date, most of those fleeing come from Iran, since thousands of Afghani men and women have to leave due to the ongoing economic crisis and currency depreciation there. On top of that, even more deportees and returnees are coming from Europe. Within the first 6 months of 2018, IOM calculated 1,741 (voluntary) returnees from Europe (of which 1,164 come from Turkey alone). The Afghani Minister for Refugees and Repatriation, Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, counted an additional 750 deportees from Europe in 2017.

Returned refugees continue to contribute to an ever increasing number of internally displaced persons (currently 1.8 million) and other impoverished groups within the country. This is because, although Afghanistan is currently the biggest receiver of development aid in the world, more than 55% of its population live below the poverty line. Women are particularly affected by poverty, as demonstrated in the VIDC analysis: “Men are not supporting their women to be active in society. Afghanistan is a traditional country. The interpretation of Islam in regards with women is different in Afghanistan. That is the reason that women have lesser economic opportunities outside their homes.” (Ershad Alamyar – head of fundraising and communications – DACAAR)


Suraya Pakzad

is a women’s rights activist from Herat. She is  founding Director of the Voice of Women Organization (VWO), a non profit organisation which offers Afghani women and girls accommodation and counselling as well as supporting them with vocational training and literacy. VWO also runs shelters for women and girls who have been subjected to violence. Pakzad has received numerous awards for her commitment to the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan: in 2012 she was voted ‘Female Leader of the Year’ by the Female Leadership Foundation in Germany. For her active participation in the National Consultative Peace Jirga (NCPJ) in Afgahnisation in 2010 she was awarded the Peace Jirga Award.

Emal Haidary

is a journalist, writer, documentary maker and entertainment lawyer based in Kabul. He studied law at the university of Kabul and received his Masters Degree from Fordham University in New York. Mr. Haidary has worked for several national and international media organizations for over a decade, including the Los Angeles Times and Deutsche Welle. He currently works as a journalist at Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Ali Ahmad

Ali Ahmad works at the VIDC and is a Doctor and researcher with a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Research. His professional work focusses on security- and working-conditions in Afghanistan, non-state security actors, pacifist strategies, Afghani foreign policy, gender and peace journalism. As a journalist, Ali has been published in a plethora of international media in Afghanistan. Before he moved in Vienna, he lived and worked in Kabu.