Refugees killed in stampede for food at camp

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Four refugees were killed in a stampede for food outside a camp for displaced people in western Afghanistan yesterday.

Four refugees were killed in a stampede for food outside a camp for displaced people in western Afghanistan yesterday.

Among the dead was a girl of about four years of age, who was buried with the others near the camp in a cemetery whose 200 graves – none more than a few months old – testify to the bleak conditions.

"I'm happy for her because she died quickly," said the girl's mother, wailing as mourners threw handfuls of mud into the grave. "What is the use of living like this?"

The camp at Maslakh, just north-west of the western city of Herat, is already home to some 100,000 displaced people. More and more arrive, most come from the drought-stricken north-western provinces of Badghis and Ghor.

The camp has been unable to accommodate recent arrivals, thousands of whom have gathered in recent months in a field ringed with human waste. Many were coughing, a sign that communicable diseases are spreading. Few had even a thin blanket to ward off near-freezing temperatures.

The daily struggle for scraps of food from the refugee camp has resulted in other stampedes like the one yesterday, said Abdul Karim, one of the newcomers. But many said conditions were even worse in the mountains of Ghor, where drought means there is no food and no trees to burn for heat.

"If you saw that area, you would prefer this to that," said Farhad, a driver who charges 10 million Afghanis (£210), to bring a truckload of people from Ghor, a two-day drive away.

"It is cold there already. The snow has not come yet, but the snow will come and kill everybody."

Unicef has warned that up to 100,000 children in camps and cities inside Afghanistan could die of cold, disease and hunger if essential relief supplies are not made available in the next few weeks.

Comments