KABUL, 5 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - As the Afghan winter approaches rapidly, conditions for some 2,300 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and former refugees in the Afghan capital, Kabul, remain miserable.
"My children are shivering of cold all night. I don't have warm clothes to protect them," Qudsia, a 35-year-old widow sitting in the shell of Kabul's technical college, in the west of the capital, told IRIN. "I am worried, snow would kill my children," the mother of seven said, calling on the government to provide them with shelters, clothes, blankets and foodstuffs.
Qudsia is living with 390 IDP families in very poor conditions in the Chaman Huzuri IDP camp, which was established in the central part of the capital in 2004.
Most families interviewed by IRIN pointed to a severe lack of winter clothing, fuel, drinking water and access to healthcare as the main problems.
Zakia, 40, has five children with her in the settlement. She returned from Iran three years ago and has had no proper shelter since. "I have sold all I had in my home. I even sold my jewelry to save the life of my children."
Mohammad Asker, 25, an inhabitant of the site said government and relief agencies were unable to fulfill their promises and they had neglected them.
Lack of shelter, poverty and unemployment are huge issues in Afghanistan among millions of returned refugees and IDPs. More than 3.5 million Afghans have returned home from Pakistan and Iran since the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001, but most still face huge challenges.
Hafiz Nadem, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation said the government was busy assisting some of the families living in extreme conditions.
"We are currently transporting families living in tents to houses borrowed by the ministry to protect them from cold," Nadem explained, adding the government was planning to move all 390 families to safe locations, but those living under tents would be given priority.
"We have transported at least 150 families to safe locations only in the capital," Nadem noted, adding the whole process would end in next few weeks.
There are still around 150,000 IDPs across the country. The government plans to relocate most of them to their place of origin or to better IDP facilities over the next year, according to the refugee ministry.
The ministry said it would be trying to meet the chronic need of the displaced to find land on which to build.
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