Hidden War of Afghanistan

PhotographerGloriann Liu
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description



The human toll of opium in Afghanistan is soaring, with many villages showing a 50% rate of addiction. In the spring of 2009, I spent part of each day for five weeks photographing heroin addicts living at the Russian Cultural Center in Kabul, a complex of buildings built by the Russians during the 1980s to house cultural events, then was largely destroyed during the civil war of the 1990s. Between 2006 and 2009 it housed over six hundred addicts, with up to 2,000 men buying and using their heroin there each day. Their stories reflect a broad swath of the tragedies that have been inflicted upon their culture in the past forty years of war. Opium products are readily available and are often less expensive than medicine or even food, explaining why mothers and grandmothers often will give the drug to their children when they are hungry or sick.