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Afghanistan: marshalling aid for orphans

30-01-1997 News Release 97/04

Countless Afghan children have died in shelling or in landmine explosions; many others have succumbed to malnutrition or disease (over 4 million since 1979, according to UNICEF). Among the survivors are those who are now orphans - war orphans whose existence has been forgotten by the belligerents. In Karte Parwan, one of the poorest districts of Kabul, a number of humanitarian organizations are fighting to save 500 children, along with their orphanage.

It has been several months now since the Tahia Maskan orphanage received any assistance whatsoever from the authorities. Just a few weeks ago its young inmates were completely destitute, without heating, food or clothing. Working with Médecins sans frontières , Solidarités, the World Food Programme and other agencies, the ICRC rallied support and material aid for the orphanage. Food and firewood were provided and pullovers and shoes distributed. Some of the foreign journalists on assignment in Kabul were moved by the children's plight. One of them, a French TF1 television reporter who recently won the Pierre Mille prize for her coverage of Afghanistan, has just told the ICRC that she intends to donate the award money to the orphanage.

Saving the Tahia Maskan orphanage will be a long-term undertaking. Its Afghan employees know this: most of them are still at work, though they receive no pay.