Kunar government aids families fleeing cross-border fighting

By Khalid Zerai

Kunar Governor Wahidullah Kalimzai distributes blankets to displaced families on November 18 in the Sagay area. [Khalid Zerai]

Kunar Governor Wahidullah Kalimzai distributes blankets to displaced families on November 18 in the Sagay area. [Khalid Zerai]

KUNAR -- Kunar provincial authorities are distributing aid to 227 families displaced by fighting along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, officials told Salaam Times.

The winter aid includes tents and blankets, as well as flour, oil, sugar and cooking equipment, prepared and distributed by the Kunar Department of Refugee and Repatriation Affairs and the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA).

Kunar civil and military officials oversaw the first distribution of aid November 18 in the Sagay area of Asadabad and in Shigal District, and have been providing services since.

Local officials say Pakistan fired more than 500 rockets towards Kunar Province in the days before the families fled. Pakistan claims that militants are launching attacks on Pakistani forces from border areas.

Clashes took place in the "Narai, Sarkano, Khas Kunar, Dangam and Shaltan districts of Kunar from the Pakistani side of the Durand Line", Kunar Governor Wahidullah Kalimzai said during the aid distribution in Sagay.

Two civilians were killed and as many as 227 families had to flee remote areas of the province "because of fear of the Taliban" and cross-border shelling, he said.

Those families are temporarily living with residents in parts of Shigal and Asadabad, he said.

"Therefore, we held an emergency meeting, and we delivered them this aid in order to fulfill their basic needs," Kalimzai said. "We have given assistance to up to 150 families, and soon we will deliver it to other families too."

"We delivered aid to 40 families two days before and to 110 families on November 18," Ghulam Ali Subat, director of the ANDMA's office in Kunar, told Salaam Times. "We will try to increase the aid and facilitate living conditions for the displaced families."

"A survey of other families also has taken place, and they will receive aid in the upcoming days," he said. "This will meet their needs to some extent. We have more aid items, and we will distribute it justly to all families."

"We will try to help these families to return to their areas," Kunar police commander Gen. Jumagul Hemat told Salaam Times.

Displaced families grateful for government aid

Sayed Amir Khan, head of a family displaced from the Chugam area of Dangam District, said shelling hit the areas surrounding his house.

"Therefore, we migrated, and here we are living in strangers' houses," he told Salaam Times.

"I am happy that the government helped me and that we started our life," he said, adding that his family left home without any personal possessions. "I thank the government for providing us with assistance."

Sulaiman Akbar, 29, who fled his home in the Soor Kamar area of Shaltan District, left behind his parents and the family's livestock.

"We came here [and] accommodated ourselves in a relative's house," he told Salaam Times. "They have given us one room that leaked during the last rain. My children were feeling cold, and they were crying."

"It is good that now I got a tent and blankets too, and now my children will be able to sleep better," he said.

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