RAWA's Malalai Hospital serves Afghan refugees in Pakistan

Kacha Abadi in Rawalpindi

Aug.10,2004: Kacha Abadi, an area in Rawalpindi of Pakistan, where Afghan refugees are living under desperate conditions. We are proud that MH is in service of these the most deserved refugees. Over 80% patients are coming from Kacha Abadi.

A report from Kacha Abadi

By a RAWA member, August 10, 2004

Kacha Abadi is located in the suburb of Islamabad, called semi-refugee camp for Afghan refugees. It was established 16 years ago. Till the last two years there were some 90,000 families but now only 20,000 families are left. People living in the camp are from different parts of Afghanistan mainly from Laghman, Jalalabad, Kundoz, Baghlan, Takhar, Logar, Gardiz, Parwan etc.

The camp has a 27 member council, all of them men, to solve the problems. Houses are made of mud and there is no electricity (only few families can afford to have generators for electricity), no clean water (people have dug wells in their homes which are usually dry especially in summer), with the exception of Malalai Hospital (which only serves women and children), there is no other hospital (there are many private clinics with high fee, more than Rs. 200 which is too much for these poor people), no schools (just last year a NGO opened only 4-5 primary schools for both boys and girls).

Most men work in Mandaee (fruit and vegetable market) to carry fruit and vegetable to the shops. Women hardly can be seen outside of their homes. There is no job, no course (except few RAWA courses), they do house work. Children of age 8 of even less have to help their parents in earning money. Mostly they work in Mandaee or searching garages to collect paper, metal pieces etc. and other things to sell.

The United Nations and government of Pakistan have warned the people in Kacha Abadi many times to return to Afghanistan but the council and the people have refused to leave as they see no better conditions of life for their families inside Afghanistan.

Deen Mohammad Baloch is from Samangan (a province in northern Afghanistan). He is in his mid 40s and has been living for 24 years in Pakistan and 12 years of it in Kacha Abadi. He is member of the council of the camp and works as UNHCR's facilitator. He says: "people here have been suffering a lot. Since the Russians left Afghanistan, UN and other aid agency didn't do anything for these people. We want to send our children to school, our women to literacy and training classes, we want to have clean water, electricity and jobs, we want to have hospitals and health centers, but none of them really exist in our camp. Most people here hardly can have enough food, children are suffering from malnutrition. Though UNHCR, governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan want us to go back, people don't want to go. How we can go? The first thing we need in our country is security which is not there because of the Mujahideen and Taliban."

He and few other men around him like Sahib Haq (from Logar) all believe that disarmament of warlords is the first step towards changing the situation in Afghanistan. They all say that if these criminals are alive, nothing will change. All criminals regardless of their ethnicity must be put on trail and punished. They say: "afther the Russians left our country; our self claim leaders are responsible for the destruction of everything in Afghanistan. Now that elections are coming, we will vote for Karzai as we find him better than the warlords. We will support all those who honestly work for peace, freedom and human rights."

When they were asked about Malalia Hospital, all the 50 or so men there said: "We are very happy that now our women and children can have access to such hospital. Before we could not afford to send our women and children to doctors but now we are sure Malalia Hospital will not disappoint them even if large number of patients are visiting the hospital everyday. But one thing we want you to do is to open a section for men as well. Where should we go if we are sick? We also hope that the hospital will continue its work even inside Afghanistan in future."

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