A peace activist left 1066 Country on Monday (December 15) to spend two weeks in war-torn Afghanistan.
Maya Evans, of Carisbrooke Road, St Leonards, is in the capital Kabul for the fourth Christmas in a row.
The 35-year-old now regularly swaps Christmas roast dinner to be with young Afghan peace-makers who have to live alongside violence and war which has raged across the country for more than 30 years.
Ahead of her departure, Maya said: “Afghanistan is still one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women, with little improvements made by the NATO/US-led offensive; illiteracy, access to medical health, and domestic violence still remain among the highest rates of any country today. I’d be crazy if I wasn’t nervous about heading out to Kabul, but I feel it’s important to be with people who have to endure some of the worst conditions in the world today. I completely appreciate that visiting a war zone is not the chosen Christmas destination for most folks in Hastings, but we all have a responsibility to look out for other human beings.
“I’m sure people think the last 13 years of war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with them, or that Maya Evans is sticking her neck out so the rest of us don’t have to, unfortunately neither of those things are true. The suffering of innocent Afghans has everything to do with this country, and leaving the job of challenging our government to just a few activists isn’t going to get us very far. Now more than ever ordinary citizens need to be saying enough is enough.”
Maya added that in the last 13 years more than 450 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, 1,819 American soldiers and tens of thousands of uncounted Afghans.
She said: “If one thing is certain it’s that violence and military action is not helping the Afghan people. I have heard Afghans politely say that they appreciate British concern but foreign troops are making things worse for them. Drone strikes, night raids, and aerial bombing has not won ‘hearts and minds’, it’s time to stop with the violence. I now have many dear friends in Kabul, they’re as close to me as my friends in Hastings, they have the same wants and desires as us, they want homes, to have jobs and be safe. If we don’t look out for the rights of others we’re on the path to losing our own basic human rights.”
Maya is leading a delegation of UK peace activists which includes Henrietta Cullinan and Mary Dobbing who are both part of the group Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK. They will be holding a drones seminar and collecting the stories and thoughts of ordinary Afghans. You can follow their progress on the group’s Facebook page.