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Afghanistan's Kuchi Nomads Forced To Settle

Years of war and drought have increasingly forced Afghanistan's Kuchis, a nomadic tribal group, to abandon their traditional lifestyle and relocate to settled areas.


Human rights organizations say Kuchis are the poorest and most marginalized group in Afghanistan.
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Human rights organizations say Kuchis are the poorest and most marginalized group in Afghanistan.

Over the centuries the Kuchi nomads, whose numbers are estimated from 300,000 to 3 million, have pursued a migratory life, herding caravans of sheep, goats, and camels around the country.
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Over the centuries the Kuchi nomads, whose numbers are estimated from 300,000 to 3 million, have pursued a migratory life, herding caravans of sheep, goats, and camels around the country.

The Kuchis migrated from warmer lowlands in winter to mountain pastures in summer. They played an important part in the economy by producing meat and fabrics used for making carpets. 
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The Kuchis migrated from warmer lowlands in winter to mountain pastures in summer. They played an important part in the economy by producing meat and fabrics used for making carpets. 

But many Kuchis have relocated to settled areas because of war, drought, and dwindling access to land. ​Only around one-third still lead nomadic lives. 
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But many Kuchis have relocated to settled areas because of war, drought, and dwindling access to land. ​Only around one-third still lead nomadic lives. 

The Kuchis are identified by their black tents, colorful clothes, and flocks of animals.
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The Kuchis are identified by their black tents, colorful clothes, and flocks of animals.

In their search for permanent residence, the Kuchis have come into conflict with local authorities and rival ethnic groups who say the newcomers are encroaching on their lands.
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In their search for permanent residence, the Kuchis have come into conflict with local authorities and rival ethnic groups who say the newcomers are encroaching on their lands.

Depleted natural resources, such as water, and lingering ethnic tensions have led to fierce clashes between Kuchi herders and members of the Hazara ethnic group in the last few years. Scores have been killed and wounded on both sides.
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Depleted natural resources, such as water, and lingering ethnic tensions have led to fierce clashes between Kuchi herders and members of the Hazara ethnic group in the last few years. Scores have been killed and wounded on both sides.

Some Kuchi families have settled in Pul-e Charkhi, outside Kabul. 
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Some Kuchi families have settled in Pul-e Charkhi, outside Kabul. 

Under the Afghan Constitution, the government is required to allocate permanent land for the Kuchis and help integrate them into settled areas. 
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Under the Afghan Constitution, the government is required to allocate permanent land for the Kuchis and help integrate them into settled areas. 

Ten of the 249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan national parliament, have been allocated to Kuchis. The government also has a department, the Independent Directorate of Kuchi Affairs, to handle Kuchi issues.
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Ten of the 249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan national parliament, have been allocated to Kuchis. The government also has a department, the Independent Directorate of Kuchi Affairs, to handle Kuchi issues.

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