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Afghanistan: Return to Tagab

29-01-1998 News Release 98/04

The vast majority of the 100,000 inhabitants of the Tagab valley, 90 km north-east of Kabul, are now returning to their land. In a country where flight from conflict is an all too regular occurrence, this welcome development signals the success of an ICRC pilot project combining emergency relief with resettlement work. The results are all the more remarkable as, even today, the region has a battle line running through it.

After being displaced from their homes by the fighting which ravaged Tagab in 1992, the valley's inhabitants received assistance from the ICRC and the Swedish Red Cross in the Samarkhel camp near Jalalabad. For the last year, a project to revive the region's agriculture has been under way to enable the displaced to return to their fields. The valley's irrigation systems had to be reconstructed, new wells sunk and the old ones cleaned out. The latter had turned into rubbish pits, the result being epidemics and a continuing health hazard for children in particular. Now, 25 square kilometres of arable land have been restored to the local population, and 168 km of irrigation channels -- including the typical Afghan karezis, which run underground -- have been repaired.

With renewed pride clearly visible on the faces of the valley people, the ICRC was able to close its Tagab office officially on 19 January.