An Afghan refugee addresses the people of world
By RAWA, August 8, 2001
On August 8, 2001, while RAWA was distributing food among refugees in New Akora Khattak camp, Mohammad Akram, the representative of Afghan refugees in the camp asked RAWA to film his remarks and send them to the people of world. He made this request to RAWA because nobody listens to their horrible stories, takes care of the ill-fated refugees who are struggling with hunger, illness, lack of shelter etc, and who will share his story with the world. Here is a translation of parts of his emotional remarks. The original is in Pushto, recorded on videotape.
My name is Mohammad Akram and I live in New Akora Camp. About 6,500 families live in this camp and among them 3,500 families have been registered by the WFP (World Food Program). As part of the previous project of WFP, supplies were being given to a number of families while a great number of families were left without any care. It was the responsibility of WFP to provide continuous supplies of food to all of these families, but they act in the opposite way, that is they provide some families with supplies for a short time and then supplies are stopped, leaving the responsibility in the hands of the government of Pakistan. As a result Pakistan has to force the refugees out because it is not in a position to feed them.
There is a propaganda in Afghanistan that the WFP provides refugees with food supplies, but this help is very limited, for example a tin of vegetable oil and a sac of flour to a family, and even this aid comes only once.
Our situation has become worse in the past two and a half months since the WFP has stopped giving us supplies. The UN has committed heinous actions under the name of Human Rights. They are liars and have abstained from telling us the truth. We are warning them that soon very bad disasters are going to occur in this camp. Houses will be burnt, people will burn themselves and will show to the world that while in many other countries millions of dollars are spent on research and welfare of animals, no one cares about the humans living here in this camp. In Russia, it is an important matter that pigs are near extinction, and in other countries, monkeys are being taken care of, while these people living in such a terrible situation and there is no one to even think about their future. We were in the UNHCR office and they also ignored us, directly telling us that they can't do anything for us.
There are people who have received supplies for about a year or six months and then the supplies have been stopped. The situation of this camp is getting worse day by day. We have four schools here in this camp. One of them for girls and three for boys. We are closing the schools now because the students studying in this school have to sell sugar cane, or water or do anything to earn some food and this is how they are also deprived of their basic right of education.
The people who have come here to this camp from Afghanistan, have not left their country because of lack of food or poverty. They were made to leave their homeland because of heavy fighting and severe dangers to their lives. We say clearly that we are not in a position to go back to Afghanistan, because we feel it is very dangerous for us. We heard that the UN took the responsibility of the security of some families who were to return to Afghanistan, and we all saw what happened to them. We don't accept anyone's offer to take the responsibility for our security, we are going to stay right here, we are not returning to Afghanistan.
Now our hope is that our voice reaches to the people of the world. Especially to those Afghans who are living in the west. We want them to save some money even from their toiletry expenses, very small amounts, one dollar perhaps, and send it to us. This way not only this camp, but also many other camps will receive help from this amount. They are living in very good conditions. At the same time thousands of orphans, widows, handicapped and poor Afghan refugees are having a very hard life in this camp and others like it in Pakistan, and people are witnessing this.
Our message to our countrymen is that their help at the smallest scale can really make a difference. Also we want you to raise our voice to the people of the world so that they know the real situation of Afghans.
It is worth mentioning that there are a number of NGOs in Pakistan that are running their personal business on these camps. They come here, make videos, photographs and interviews and run surveys but never return with any help and if they do receive any funds, they would never give it to the needy people. At the same time there are some NGOs that are really working for the benefit and welfare of refugees. We request them not to let the corrupt NGOs work against the people and for their own personal benefit. We also blame the BBC Radio for not broadcasting our interviews. The people of the world will not come to know about our situation unless our voice is raised through such interviews but the BBC radio did not fulfill it's promise of broadcasting our interviews.
We thank you for your concern and help and would like you to tell more journalists about the situation in this camp so that they can come to us and see and cover the situation personally. This way we hope the world will come to know about the real situation of refugees in Pakistan.
Mohammad Akram: "We are warning [the UN] that soon very bad disasters are going to occur in this camp. Houses will be burnt, people will burn themselves..."
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