Aid workers, athletes from refugee camps help bring games to Afghanistan

Nearly all of the athletes and officials in Afghanistan’s first international sporting event in a decade were born or grew up in refugee camps in Pakistan, according to a New York Times report. One of the most prestigious sporting competitions in the country’s history took place this week in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, the home of one of the world’s largest refugee camps, but they had to travel more than a thousand miles before they reached the stadium. Much of the competition was moved there after the Taliban closed down the country’s roads in August 2008, but the fight was still on the refugees’ minds.

“If they could shoot us in Afghanistan, they will shoot us in the Peshawar camp,” said 25-year-old female boxer Ziba Bakhtia, who had returned to Afghanistan after years as a refugee in Iran. The decision to hold the event in Peshawar was part of Afghanistan’s bid to demonstrate that its Taliban-era history had been fabricated. “Many Afghans were afraid to return to Afghanistan, afraid to tell their families where they were and afraid to go to the Peshawar stadium,” Sohaila Qutub, the president of the Afghan Olympic Committee, told the Times. “So we said let’s have a tryout there.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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