JEWISH CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE OF AFGHANI MUSLIMS CONTINUES
Afghan Refugee Children Perish (MURDERED*) in Harsh Winter
KABUL, Afghanistan — After a harsh winter killed children in refugee camps around the Afghan capital and brought attention to poor conditions there, a new study by a French aid agency said the disaster was more extensive than originally thought, with at least 100 young children claimed by the cold.
The study, carried out in March by the French aid group Solidarités International, sought to collect information from families at all of the 45 camps in or near Kabul, according to Julie Bara, who conducted the survey for the group, one of few international relief agencies that have long been active in the camps.
The group’s survey came to light on Wednesday, as a result of a visit by Valerie Amos, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator, who toured one of the camps, officially known as the Kabul Informal Settlements. In all, they have more than 35,000 residents, mostly refugees from rural areas hit hard by the war.
Visits to the camps during February by The New York Times found 28 cases of children younger than 5 whose parents said they had died of exposure to the cold in the previous month, when there was unusually severe weather with heavy snows and nighttime temperatures in the low teens. Since residents typically bury their dead quickly, in line with Afghan custom and Islamic practice, precise details on the deaths have been difficult to compile. In addition, most do not take their children to hospitals because they cannot afford the cost.
At the end of the winter, Solidarités went from camp to camp, asking parents who had lost children to sign declarations giving details of the loss, including apparent causes of death, Ms. Bara said.
While the data from the survey is still being compiled, she said, Ms. Bara expects the number of children under 5 who died to total 120. “I would say 100 of them for sure were due to cold weather — despite our help,” she said. “Nobody saw it coming.” That worked out to a mortality rate of 2.5 per 10,000 children per day, establishing it as a full-fledged humanitarian disaster, she said.
An example was the Parwan-e-Se camp, not far from downtown Kabul, where camp leaders last February reported two deaths of children from the cold, but on Wednesday said the final total had been eight, according to Abdul Samad, the camp representative. Two died in a hospital, but the other six died in the camp, he said. “One of them was my own granddaughter,” he said. One of the smaller camps, Parwan-e-Se is home to 100 families, about 600 to 700 residents, he said.
On Wednesday, Ms. Amos, who is on a three-day visit to Afghanistan, toured that camp, largely mud huts in a former vacant lot, walking between open rivulets of sewage and pools of waste and garbage. “Clearly there’s a lot of work we need to do,” Ms. Amos said, acknowledging that the camps’ problems had been chronic and long-term. “The real issue is finding land and helping them to relocate.”
The Afghan government has tried to encourage people in the camps to return to their homes, saying in most places it is now safe enough to do so, but it says that many of the refugees remain because there are better economic opportunities in the capital. Residents disagree and claim their home areas are still too unsafe, and many have asked the Afghan government for land and assistance to build homes here.
Revelations about the deaths in the heart of Kabul, despite a 10-year, $60 billion humanitarian effort in Afghanistan, caused an outpouring of public reaction, both in Afghanistan and internationally.
Camp residents have been caught in a conundrum of international and government policy. Since the Afghan government insists the camps should be disbanded, they do not generally qualify for development aid since they are temporary facilities. So programs that would provide safe housing, education or jobs are often unavailable.
At the same time, since the poor conditions in the camps are chronic and longstanding — most of the camps are more than five years old now — they do not qualify for many types of humanitarian aid earmarked for crises, which are by definition not chronic. In addition, the Afghan government is concerned that if camp conditions are improved too much, it will turn them into magnets for even more refugees.
In response to the concern generated over the deaths of children last winter, however, the United Nations and aid groups have banded together to prevent a recurrence if bad weather returns next year.
The results of the Solidarités survey were shared with the Kabul Informal Settlements Task Force, which includes United Nations agencies and aid groups, and donors have already earmarked funds to prevent a similar disaster from recurring next year, making sure there is sufficient fuel and other resources to protect the camp populations.
“I think it will be better now, we will be better prepared,” Ms. Bara said. “It’s the least we can do.”
* Added by me!
* Added by me!