UN builds homes for 100 homeless Helmand families

By Abdul Khaleq Hamim

With financial support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Afghan Community and Health Rehabilitation Organisation (ACHRO) has constructed 100 new homes for unsheltered families in Helmand province. [Abdul Khaleq Hamim/Salaam Times]

HELMAND -- After an extended period of homelessness, 100 families from Helmand now have roofs over their heads, thanks to assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Their houses, in the Bolan area of the provincial capital Lashkargah, were destroyed during the war.

Each UNHCR-constructed home has two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a separate toilet and is constructed according to modern standards and material.

Building houses, hope

The Afghan Community and Health Rehabilitation Organisation (ACHRO) is implementing the project.

A house funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under construction in the Bolan area of Lashkargah city, Helmand province, is pictured on January 17. [Abdul Khaleq Hamim/Salaam Times]

A house funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under construction in the Bolan area of Lashkargah city, Helmand province, is pictured on January 17. [Abdul Khaleq Hamim/Salaam Times]

Construction started in October and 95% of the work is now completed, according to Abdul Wali Safi, ACHRO director in Helmand.

Each house costs $3,700 to build and the overall budget for the project, provided by the UNHCR, is $370,000 (33 million AFN).

"Houses in the Bolan area were destroyed during the war in recent years, leaving locals without shelter," Safi said January 17.

"Work on the first phase of the project, which includes the construction of 100 houses, is almost complete and will be handed over to the beneficiaries in a few days."

"In the second phase of the project, we plan to build more houses in Lashkargah city in the near future, as well as in some districts such as Sangin and Nahr-e-Saraj," he said.

"Our objective is to build shelters for the war-torn and impoverished residents and give them hope for life."

These houses are resistant to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, Safi added.

A new life

Sayed Ahmad, 52, who has a family of eight, said a newly constructed house has given him and his family a new life.

"Not having shelter is very difficult. My family had to wander from place to place after my house was destroyed [in the war], and we had to live in my cousin's old house," he said.

"We are very happy now that we have a new house, constructed according to [engineering] standards," he added.

"We are counting the seconds to move to our new house. Only a little work is left, which will be finished in a few days," he said. "We will happily move to our new house once the weather gets a little warmer."

Sayed Ahmad said he could have never imagine owning such a house and has realised one of his life's greatest dreams, thanks to the UNHCR's assistance.

Sediqullah, 45, a father of seven, said the new houses are much better and more resilient than the residents' previous homes.

"My house was destroyed around three years ago in the war and was no longer livable," he said.

"Since then, we had been living in our neighbour's old house. Living there was very difficult. Rainwater would leak inside during the winter."

"If the aid agency had not constructed my house, I could have never afforded to build it," Sediqullah said.

"I cannot even afford to buy a simple door," he said. "I am very happy with this house as my family does not have to live in the mud in an old house anymore."

Sediqullah said there are many other residents who lack shelter because their houses were destroyed by natural disasters or war, and he is hopeful that aid agencies will build homes for the affected families.

"Fighting was intense in our area in the past, which destroyed our houses," said Abdul Wali, 35, another recipient of a UNHCR-funded shelter. "I had to relocate to the next village, but now that I have a house, I am moving back together with my family."

"I could not construct my house because of economic problems," he said. "Now I am a homeowner, thanks to the aid agencies. My children won't be shelterless from now on and won't have to live in other people's houses."

Abdul Wali said that every time he looks at his new house, he feels more hopeful for the future.

Need for international aid

More than 6,000 houses have been destroyed by wars and natural disasters in the province, according to Helmand's Department of Refugees and Repatriations.

Bashir Ahmad, 38, a resident of Nad-e-Ali district, Helmand province, said he suffers from poverty and hunger and cannot reconstruct his destroyed house.

"My house was close to a security post, which was destroyed in a car bombing, destroying our lives with it," he said. "It has been four years since then."

"In addition to the destruction of the house, my two children, my wife and I were injured as well."

Bashir Ahmad said he and his family had to relocate to Lashkargah city because of lack of housing and economic problems.

"We live in a very small house among internally displaced persons in the city. If my house in the Nad-e-Ali district is reconstructed, I will not stay here for another second."

The residents of the camp depend on assistance from aid agencies and they would not have anything to eat if support were not provided, Bashir Ahmad said.

Abdul Rahim, 47, a resident of the Washir district of Helmand, said a flood destroyed his mud house two years ago and that he has not been able to reconstruct it.

"I don't even have 100 AFN [$1.12] to build a shelter for myself. I spent a couple of months with my family in a tent but then started living in a small house that used to be a fodder storage," he said.

"Six people live in a room," Abdul Rahim said. "It is very difficult to live this way."

"If aid agencies support us and build shelter for us, it will ease my and my family's life," he said. "Our current life is really difficult."

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The United Nations had already said that they had built houses for the earthquake victims of Paktika, but the latest information published by some media and individuals say that no homes have been built there; however, there were rumors that so many houses were built for them. Paktika earthquake victims are spending winter nights and days in dire conditions. It is hoped that the issue of building homes for homeless people in Helmand is not a lie and is based on facts.


I have heard about the theft of most of the foreign organizations they were doing in the projects, but these activities are praiseworthy; they built houses for the homeless people and protected them from wind and rain. Thanks to them.


Wow! fantastic. Thousands of families in Afghanistan do not have shelter or cannot afford to build it. At one time, this work was also done by the UNHCR, which used to build houses for families who had just returned from Pakistan. Apart from natural disasters, wars have hit Afghans hard. For this reason, Afghans are very pitiable. I am sure that the world knows about their poverty; if it is not, I hope they will inform themselves about it and have mercy on them. I am delighted to read this news hoping that such organizations and assistance will increase and reach Afghans.


Although the United Nations and especially the UNHCR are thieves and spend more than half of the aid they receive on their administrative expenses, this work is commendable. What I said is not just a claim. One of our relatives was working with UNHCR in Kabul. He said that in 2002, Canada donated 1 million Canadian dollars to the UNHCR to protect the security of its local workers and their families. Still, the organization did not pay that money to any Afghan and put it in its pocket. If a person looks at the billions of dollars that the international community is giving to Afghanistan and then looks at the construction of a few houses that have neither capacity nor quality, it is clear that in Afghanistan, The United Nations agencies are committing thefts.


UNHCR agency was able to build 100 houses for 100 families in Helmand province, Bolan district, which gave shelter to 100 homeless families. These hundred families, who were living a difficult life and did not even have a house, got houses with the help of the United Nations and the UNHCR agency and started a hopeful life again. By building these houses, the United Nations and UNHCR won not only the hearts of the people of Helmand province, but also the hearts of all the people of Afghanistan. These houses have two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a toilet. They solve the need of a family in a complementary way. These poor people could not build a house for themselves in this difficult situation where all people are facing economic problems. The United Nations and the UNHCR office were able to fulfill the aspirations of these poor people of Afghanistan. Thanks to the United Nations and UNHCR.