Dubai group steps in to help stricken Afghan vil­lage

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Sar­wat Nasir @Sar­watNasir sar­wat@7days.ae

A group of Dubai res­i­dents have brought much-needed shel­ter to a refugee camp in Afghanistan where more than a hun­dred chil­dren froze to death four years ago.

7DAYS re­ported in De­cem­ber that the Keep Qam­bar Warm cam­paign had been launched to help Afghan refugees through sub-zero tem­per­a­tures.

And the fund-rais­ing ef­fort gen­er­ated $7,000 (Dhs25,710) in three months for peo­ple in the Charahi Qam­bar Camp in West­ern Kabul and has helped to wa­ter­proof al­most 300 homes.

The camp is one of the big­gest in the Afghan cap­i­tal and the peo­ple there strug­gle with no wa­ter, elec­tric­ity or heat.

Most of the refugees in Qam­bar have been forced to flee from Hel­mand prov­ince, where at­tacks by the Tal­iban are the most fre­quent.

But now there is some respite, af­ter the cam- paign se­cured 280 tar­pau­lins to help weath­er­proof homes.

One of the cam­paign vol­un­teers, Dubaibased Scott Richards, said: “These chil­dren are liv­ing in mud-houses, walk­ing in mud that is soaked, wet and cold. The dirt per­me­ates ev­ery­thing. These mud huts are weak and they col­lapse, they don’t pro­tect from the weather.

“What you can see in the faces of these chil­dren, kids liv­ing with­out ed­u­ca­tion, is their spirit.

“They do their best to smile and make an im­pos­si­ble situation bear­able. Apart from need­ing the world to help them, tak­ing a good look at these lit­tle faces can teach the world about courage.”

Afghanistan has been plagued by con­flict for decades. Thou­sands of chil­dren, women, and men have died and fam­i­lies have been wiped out due to fight­ing by the Tal­iban and other ex­trem­ist groups.

The United Na­tions has recorded 1,592 peo­ple killed and 3,329 in­jured just in the first half of 2015, which is a 1 per cent in­crease from the first half of 2014.

The con­stant un­rest in the coun­try has caused al­most two gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren to be born and raised in refugee camps, where ev­ery win­ter they have to bat­tle freez­ing tem­per­a­tures - of­ten with­out warm cloth­ing or blan­kets.

Richards shared a tragic in­stance at the camp re­cently when a mud-house col­lapsed duthe rains, crush­ing an 18-month-old girl to death. He said the tragedy might have been pre­vented through the use of a sim­ple tar­pau­lin that would have pro­tected the struc­ture against the weather.

Sev­eral ex­pats have come for­ward to help with the cam­paign, in­clud­ing UK mu­si­cian Craig Fran­cis, who wrote and recorded the song Sleep­ing in the Shadow of the Sun.

Cliff Ten­der, a Dubai res­i­dent and DJ in Afghanistan, played the track in Kabul on Ar­man Ra­dio, giv­ing the song its in­ter­na­tional de­but. The group has no plans to slow down the relief ef­fort. There are a to­tal of 1,300 refugees in the camp and the fund-rais­ing cam­paign will con­tinue. De­tails are avail­able at www.face­book.com/keep­qam­bar­warm.

Apart from need­ing help, tak­ing a good look at these lit­tle faces can teach the world about courage

– Cam­paign vol­un­teer Scott Richards

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