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As US Occupation Drags on, Afghanistan Suffering at Record High

Afghans' ratings of their own lives hit new low

An Afghan man in Nawa District. (Photo:  Marine Corps/Sgt. John R. Rohrer/flickr/cc)

As U.S. officials tout progress they say occupation forces have brought Afghanistan, people in that country are offering a much more bleak view. According to a new Gallup World Poll, Afghans are expressing record suffering, and have given record-low ratings to their own lives.

The poll, which calculated responses from face-to-face interviews with roughly 1,000 adults, uses the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. That metric allows respondents to give a self-assessment of their well-being, using a scale of 0 - 10. Gallup groups the numbers into the following categories: "thriving," "struggling" or "suffering."

The poll found that 61 percent of Afghans gave their lives a rating in the suffering category—a figure Gallup says is the highest figure ever recorded for any country since it started the assessment in 2005. It surpasses the record 55 percent Gallup found in Afghanistan last year.

As in the 2013 poll, this year's results show that zero percent of respondents gave their lives a rating that could be categorized as thriving.


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Dissatisfaction with the county's efforts to deal with the poor have also skyrocketed, the poll shows. In 2008, 32 percent expressed dissatisfaction, but that figure jumped to 86 percent in 2014.

Gallup reports: "It's difficult to see how Afghans' life evaluations could get much worse—but the current combination of violence, drug addiction and intractable poverty makes it equally difficult to envision any improvement, at least over the short term. In the meantime, rampant hopelessness among the population makes concerns about the growth and influence of extremist groups in Afghan society as real as ever."

The new findings come as the U.S. war in Afghanistan continues, despite declarations that combat operations are coming to an end.

Nicholas Haysom, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said last week: "It is civilians who increasingly bear the brunt of this grinding conflict."

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