KABUL: Afghans fear for their safety more than at any time in over a decade, according to an annual survey published on Tuesday, which also found confidence in the government at its lowest since polling began.
Some 67.4 percent of Afghans say they are worried about their well-being at all times, often, or sometimes, the highest figure since the survey began in 2004, and up two percentage points from a year earlier.
Only around a third of people questioned in the Asia Foundation’s annual survey believed the country is “moving in the right direction,” down from over half in 2014 and 58 percent in 2013 – record breaking years for optimism in a country ravaged by a war that has pitted foreign-backed government forces against Taliban rebels since 2001.
Some 57.5 percent of Afghans believe their country is not improving. They cite insecurity, unemployment and corruption as the main scourges that plague Afghan society.
Optimism for the future was at its highest in the southern province of Helmand — a Taliban stronghold – and lowest in Kabul, according to the survey.
Bombings, kidnappings, unemployment and an economy that has failed to take off are the most frequently cited factors for Afghans wishing to migrate, legally or illegally, to Europe.
Afghans are the second most numerous nationality after Syrians to be sweeping into Europe with the aid of human traffickers.
“This year’s survey shows that Afghan optimism about the overall direction of the country fell to the lowest point in a decade, after steadily rising through 2014,” noted the Asia Foundation, which highlighted the prevailing skepticism towards the government of President Ashraf Ghani.
The survey, which took place in June involved individual interviews with 9,586 Afghans of 14 different ethnicities in the country’s 34 provinces. The margin of error was 1.6 percent, according to the organization.
It came in the midst of the Taliban’s annual surge in fighting across the spring and summer months, which claimed the lives of thousands of security personnel, but before the insurgents’ brief capture of northern Kunduz, their biggest military victory since the insurgency began.