In Chora district of Urozgan province, Afghanistan

Thank you for risking your lives: Matthew Goldthwaite of the Central Asia Development group describes a visit he took (with Michael Yon) to the dangerous hinterlands of Afghanistan:

It isn’t every day that you get to begin a meeting with your host telling you, “Thank you for risking your lives to come meet with us today.” These were the words spoken to me today by Gul Agha, governor of Chora district in Urozgan province, as we met with him and other community leaders to discuss the selection process for laborers participating in a CADG implemented development program on behalf of the Australian Government’s Overseas Aid program (AUSAID).

When the Governor said this, it was not a new realization to me that that my colleagues and I had risked our lives to get to this meeting. In fact, the danger was ever present in my mind for the duration of the two hour road trip, without armored vehicles or military escorts, across a dirt high-desert road that resembled a lunar landscape, separating Tarin Kowt from Chora. The danger was even more apparent when I was informed that insurgents had attacked Chora the previous evening and the road we were traveling on had claimed over a hundred lives due to insurgent attacks in the past year alone.

However when we did arrive in Chora it became apparent why we had made the journey. Of all the locations I have been to in Afghanistan over the past two years, I had never seen such a destabilized community, desperate for assistance as Chora. Driving through this small town, I could observe the obvious battle damage, which took the form of demolished buildings and roads, as well as the body of a dead Taliban fighter that had been laid out for display in the town square. Yet just as disturbing was the sight of so many Afghan men unemployed, lingering around the town each with a level of frustration and anger that was palpable. The town was a powder keg, waiting for a spark.

Yon’s amazing photograph of the dead Taliban and the town gathering shows the tension present in Chora. Be sure to view the panorama..

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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