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War and winter scourge for displaced Afghans

War and winter scourge for displaced Afghans
Absence of fuel forces displaced people to burn waste plastic resulting in respiratory ailments, environmental issues

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Held between severe winter and war, as many as 900,000 displaced persons in war-torn Afghanistan, living on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe are crying for attention.

In Kabul, where temperatures have dropped to -15 degrees Celsius (5-degree Fahrenheit) most of the displaced persons are lacking shelter, waterproof footwear, and warm clothing.

Living in a home, made of plastic, tarpaulin and rugs in the Hewad Waal camp in Kabul, aging Laila Adey, a widow is heading a family of 13 other women and minors. Suffering from chronic cardiac disease and hypertension, everyday her first job is to find means to keep the shanty house warm.

“You can see my state with your own eyes, I lose breath after walking for a few minutes. But there is no way out of the miseries other than knocking door to door and begging for some food and warm clothes for these orphans”, she told Anadolu Agency.

She has a simple stove, but no fuel.

Like her many displaced persons in the camp, she burns cardboard and plastic that her family has collected during the summer. The dark, thick plastic fumes are creating respiratory diseases and environmental issues in the vicinity. Due to strict cultural norms, which make women to stay inside, they are getting constantly exposed to plastic and rubber fumes that lead to severe irritation to the nose, lungs, and eyes.

Adey is among 400,000 refugees, who have returned to the country after spending most of their life in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Two years ago, she was forced to leave Pakistan when the authorities began deporting Afghan refugees upon the end of their term for a legal stay amid claims that Afghanistan had returned to normalcy. There are 500,000 more people, who were displaced from different regions of the country, witnessing fierce clashes between government forces and the Taliban.

The Hewad Waal camp – one of many formal and informal settlements of the displaced people – houses some 500 families.

- Multiple miseries

Tawab Khan had brought his family to the camp from restive northern Kunduz province bordering Tajikistan to Kabul. “Our lives were under threat due to everyday fighting (between the Taliban and security forces). Apart from hope in Allah, we have nothing with us”, said the elderly displaced man.

On its northern outskirts of Kabul, close to the main fruit and vegetable market, another camp houses many more distressed, displaced families. Abdul Mohammad, an elderly displaced person told Anadolu Agency their miseries have multiplied with the harsh winter. “We have set-up these tents with clothes on our own, and live in them even when it snows, and only survive by burning cardboard papers”, he said.

Mohammad said that his family has not been able to sleep at night due to freezing temperatures and for want of food.

“This year, through its seasonal support, we delivered more than 12,500 metric tons of food and 240 million Afghani ($3.04 million) in cash to cover food needs of more than 720,000 people during the harsh winter. That includes more than 10,000 prolonged displaced families living in Kabul informal settlements”, the World Food Program communication officer, Wahidullah Amani, told Anadolu Agency.

With no sustainable way out of the crisis, even such a support is not helping to beat harsh winter. While lauding efforts of aid agencies for help, Adey, however, lamented that the aid lasted only a few days of early winter, leaving the displaced population on its own to face the rest of winter.

source: News Feed
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