AFGHANISTAN

Modern Afghanistan was founded in 1709 when one the local tribes established a dynastic empire first based in Kandahar and later moved to Kabul. The Afghan Empire remained independent until the 19th century when it fell under British control. Afghanistan then became a buffer between the British and Russian empires until it won its independence from British control in 1919. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to support the tottering Communist regime in Kabul, but withdrew 10 years later under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist groups. A civil war between these factions erupted following the 1992 fall of the Communist regime. The Taliban, a movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy, seized Kabul in 1996, and in 1998 seized most of the country outside of opposition Northern Alliance strongholds. After the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in attempts to topple the Taliban. As a result of heavy war, thousands of children have been left orphaned and forced to find their own way to food, shelter, and safety. The majority of Afghanistan’s population (nearly 99%) is Muslim. The main ethnic groups include the Pashtun and Tajik, as well as other smaller ethnic groups. The major languages spoken in Afghanistan are Persian and Pashtu, as well as other languages spoken by other smaller minority groups. Life began assisting Afghan refugees in 2001 in Pakistan, and opened formal operations in Afghanistan in March 2002. Life assisted orphans, widows and refugees of war, by providing them with food, clothing, shelter, education, medical supplies and digging water wells. Life in partnership with the US State Department and the Department of Defense, distributed 5,000 wheelchairs to the handicapped in all provinces throughout the country with guidance from the UN and the Afghan Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled.

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