Glimpses of Hope in the Shadow of War

The Afghan Youth Symposium

Afghanistan and its people have been wracked with almost four decades of war and violent conflict. More civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict in 2018 than at any time since records have been kept, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office.

Among the documented 3,804 civilian deaths were 927 children, the highest recorded number of boys and girls killed in the conflict during a single year. The data clearly shows that children and adolescents, that amount two third of the country‘s population, have been significantly affected by this violence.

The experiences and voices of the Afghan youth, however, are still underrepresented in scientific and political debates that primarily focus on political and military ‘powerful’ national and international actors. The Afghan Youth Project that has been conducted by Prof. Phil C. Langer and his team since 2016 in Afghanistan has put the Afghan youth into the research’s focus, since it is the young generation that shapes the country’s future.

It aims at understanding their possible role in the process towards sustainable peace in Afghanistan. It focuses on understanding how experiences of everyday violence affect the identity and integrity of young people, shape their imagination of a different Afghanistan, and their agency to contribute to a societal and political transformation.

At the symposium, key findings of the Afghan Youth Project will be presented, contextualized, and discussed in an interdisciplinary manner. Renown international fellow researchers, policy makers, mental health and education experts and activist from Afghanistan, Germany and other European countries are invited to think collectively future perspectives of the Afghan youth.

The Afghan Youth Project was developed, designed, and conducted within a participatory framework that included (in alphabetic order): Aisha-Nusrat Ahmad, Prof. Dr. Angela Kühner, Farhad Majidi, Hamid Aaqil Shah, Khesraw Majidi, Nasera Faryabi, Obaid Majidi, Prof. Dr. Phil C. Langer, Shaista Alikan, Shamsia Mohammadi, & Ulrike Auge.

We greatly appreciate the funding of the Afghan Youth Project by the German Foundation for Peace Research, the grant by the Stiftung Analytische Psychiatrie for conducting the symposium, and the logistic support by the International Psychoanalytic University. -– the organizing team


08.30 Arrival and reception
09.00 Introduction
09.10 Welcome addresses
Prof. Dr. Ilka Quindeau, President of the International Psychoanalytic University Berlin
H.E. Abdul J. Ariyaee, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Berlin
09.30 The Afghan Youth Project (1) – Reflection on key findings of the research project
Prof. Dr. Phil C. Langer, International Psychoanalytic University Berlin
10.30 Coffee break
11.00 Perspectives on the current situation of youths in Afghanistan
Moderation: Khesraw Majidi
H.E. Shukria Barakzai, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Oslo
Mr. Zabi Majidi, designated Member of Parliament, Kunduz
Dr. Ahmad Noor Baheige Aakhunzzada, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF/HSFK)
Mr. Omed Arghandiwal, YAAR Berlin, Association for Afghan refugees in Berlin
12.30 Lunch break (prepared by Refueat, Berlin)
13.30 The Afghan Youth Project (2) – On wishes, hopes, and social agency of Afghan youths
Mrs. Aisha-Nusrat Ahmad, International Psychoanalytic University Berlin
14.30 Coffee Break
15.00 Key issues for the future of Afghan youths (parallel workshops and panel discussion)
1. Gender inequality and female solidarity
2. Education matters
3. International engagement
4. Mental health and psychosocial support
16:30 Short break
16.45 Thinking about the role of the Afghan youth
Moderation: Mrs. Aisha-Nusrat Ahmad & Prof. Dr. Phil C. Langer
Mr. Dieter Göpfert, GIZ, Kabul
Dr. Rohullah Amin, Department of Sociology at the University of the German Armed Forces in Munich
Mrs. Mina Orang, IPSO, Berlin
Mr. Masood Sardabi, IPSO, Berlin
18.15 Concluding remarks
Prof. Dr. Phil C. Langer, International Psychoanalytic University Berlin

Digital Exhibition

Drawings and voices from the Afghan Youth Project (Ulrike Auge)
19.00 Dinner (prepared by Refueat, Berlin)


28 March 2019


International Psychoanalytic University Berlin
Hörsaal 1 (3rd floor), Stromstr. 2, 10555 Berlin

Please note: free admission but limited capacity – registration required until March 22, 2019 by e-mail: sozpsy(at)

How to get there... Since parking options are limited, we recommend to use public transport opportunities, e.g. S 5 or S 7 to Bellevue station (10 minutes by walk), U 7 to Turmstraße station (5 minutes by walk) or TXL bus (e.g. from the airport) to Turmstraße station (5 minutes by walk).