Alexandra Boulat

Afghan refugees – Spring 2001


“Added to the ongoing war and Taliban exactions, the drought, which affects the country for two years now, has drawn on exodus roads hundreds of thousands of refugees.
“I have been in humanitarian work for 24 years, says Hashim Utkan of the UNHCR, and I don’t think that I would be exaggerating in saying that I haven’t seen anything as bad as that. And that included quite a number of disasters”

The situation concern not only Afghanistan but also Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, near by the Iranian border, Herat’s camp is hosting 100 000 refugees, all comming from the West and North West of the country, most of them fleeing the drought.
After a long journey down to the camp, the refugees have to face a cold winter, leaving under reed tents. 150 people died of cold during the last week of January, including 130 children.
Only Tankers from the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontières provide the meager supply of water.”
Pakistan, already home to two million Afghans – some since the Soviet invasion in 1979 – now faces a major socio-economic crisis. The latest wave of 100,000 refugees is crammed under plastic sheeting in the squalid Jalosai refugee camp, a few kilometers south of Peshawar. The new arrivals have no food or shelter, and most are starving. Only Medics Without Borders tankers provide a meager supply of clean water.
An initial group of 18,000 people who arrived at the site were completely cleared and relocated on January 12 to an existing site in Shamshatoo, which is also overcrowded.

Alexandra Boulat – Spring 2001