Between a sandy cliff and cracked riverbed on the edge of this small provincial capital, 380 families are camped in a cluster of hand-sewn, sun-bleached tents, waiting for rain and peace to let them return to their ancestral villages. But across drought-stricken, war-torn Badghis province in far-western Afghanistan, the wait will not end soon.
One of the camp occupants is Reza Gul, a widow in her early 30s with four young children. Three months ago, with little food left and Taliban fighters harassing security posts near their village, she abandoned her only valuable possessions — a pair of donkeys — and fled in a rented truck. Now the family shares a tiny tent, where Gul shells pistachios all day with a small hammer, a chore for which local merchants pay about 50 cents a day.