IRIN News, January 29, 2007

Gul, 45: “I am still homeless”

"We are still coping with our sixth winter in this one small room along with my nine children"

KABUL: "We returned from neighbouring Pakistan in June 2002, after hearing that living conditions had improved and the government was providing proper shelter and plots of land for returnees, but unfortunately nothing has happened yet.

Kabul in gap of poverty and destitution ( )
RAWA Photo: One of thousands children of poor families in Kabul who live in tents in the cold weather of -20Cº . The hands of this child have become paralyzed due to sever cold.

"We are still coping with our sixth winter in this one small room along with my nine children [two daughters and seven sons]. My husband [Towfan Jan], who was a labourer for Kabul municipality, died of a severe illness due to the cold weather in 2004.

"The room we are currently living in was originally a shop in a privately owned market. Last week, the owner of the market told us to evacuate it before March 2007. Now I don't know what to do. where should I go with my small children?

"It is not only me. There are about 300 people, mainly returnees, who are living in such harsh conditions in these shops. We need urgent assistance … not more empty promises from the government.

"I not only need land for myself but I need construction materials too in order to build a house because we can't afford them.

"My oldest son, who is 15, and two others are working in the city. Every day they are carrying people's goods on their handcarts and earn 60 and sometimes 70 Afghanis [per day, almost US$1.50 ] which doesn't meet our daily expenses.

"They [the children] can't study at school because they have to work every day for our survival. I need 14kg of coal to heat our room, but I can't afford this, because it costs 240 Afghanis [almost $5].

"I am very afraid my children will die due to the cold winter as I have only a few blankets for them.

"The government is giving land to those who have money or power and ignore the real poor and needy people.

"I will refuse to leave this place in March if I don't get another place to live."

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