Ghezal  ·  Afghanistan

Why We Flee: The Taliban Says We are All Infidels

If you have a child, you will understand how I feel.

Writing by Twila Bird
Photography by Lindsay Silsby

My name is Ghezal. I am thirty-five years old, and I have seven children. I am from a village near the city of Herat, where there is war most of the time. The Taliban says we are all infidels. They killed my father, one of my sisters, and a brother. My husband was killed two years ago. One day, he went to the market to shop, and on the way back to the house he was killed. I didn’t see his body. I just saw one photo of his death.

After that, I lived with my brother, and he supported us. But he worked for the government, and because of this, the Taliban threatened to kill him, so he left Afghanistan and moved to Germany. I thought we should leave as well. My son-in-law sold his house to provide money for our journey.

In the end, I had to leave my three oldest daughters behind. They are thirteen, fifteen, and sixteen years old.

We only had enough money to go from Afghanistan to Turkey and from Turkey to Greece. I had terrible times on our long journey with my little children. Sometimes we had nothing to eat for two or three days. Some nights I stayed awake until morning because I was afraid wolves or thieves would attack us in the forest.

2016 Lindsay Silsby: Ghezal
Now we are in Greece, but my heart and my mind are still in Afghanistan with my daughters. If you have a child, you will understand how I feel. It has been one year since I came here, and they are there and they need help. One daughter is married, and two are living with my mother in our village. It is very dangerous there, even worse than Kabul. There isn’t any phone or internet connection in the village to contact them. I am afraid my husband’s family will sell my daughters to the Taliban. I’m crying every night here, and only God knows what I’m feeling.


In March 2016, the youngest of Ghazal’s three daughters in Afghanistan was brutally murdered. Her dismembered body was left on the doorstep of her home there. When Ghezal found out, it threw her into a deep depression. She holed up in her tent for several months. With the help of compassionate humanitarians, Ghezal hired a lawyer and recently gained assylum status in Greece, meaning she now has legal papers and can stay there permanently. She was not given the option of immigrating to Germany where her brother and son now live separately. She still has two daughters in danger in Afghanistan.

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