Report: Afghan War Displaces Half Million Civilians Who Lack Proper Housing, Food

Posted February 23rd, 2012 at 10:05 am (UTC-5)
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An international human rights group says fighting in Afghanistan has displaced half a million people who lack access to adequate housing, food and schools.

London-based Amnesty International said in a report Thursday that the situation is a “horrific humanitarian and human rights crisis.”

The report said the displaced are living in settlements that lack food, proper sanitation and health care, and that at least 28 children have died in harsh conditions in camps around the capital, Kabul. Government estimates say harsh conditions have claimed at least 40 lives around the country in the last few weeks.

Amnesty's legal and policy director, Michael Bochenek, told reporters Thursday following the report's release that the number of displaced Afghans continues to grow.

“We have vast numbers of Internally Displaced People in Afghanistan resulting from the conflict, a rate of something like 400 people per day. The number of displaced people has increased every year since 2008 and at the beginning of this year we are looking at, at least half a million people, in Afghanistan alone, who have been internally displaced largely as a result of the conflict.”

Amnesty International says Afghan government rules have kept humanitarian groups from providing proper aid, and called on officials to remove the barriers.

The group's director for Asia Pacific affairs, Sam Zarifi, tells VOA that the main problem is that many Afghan officials do not want to view those showing up to cities uninvited as victims or appropriate recipients of humanitarian aid.

“The municipal authorities have no plans and very few resources to help them, and they basically want to pretend that these people are not really there.”

The group is urging international and Afghan forces to address the problems, and for the Taliban to allow aid into areas it controls.