March 27 2002
Changing daily life for Afghan refugee children
27/03/2002 - As already reported in 'News from the World', a number of relief programmes and facilities for Afghan refugee children in Pakistan were officially opened on 19 - 21 March. The openings were attended by government officials, regional representatives and the guest of honour, Princess Salimah Aga Khan, the official SOS-Kinderdorf International Ambassador for Children since 2000.
Visits like that of Princess Salimah Aga Khan are significant for a number of reasons: they publicly highlight the unchanging desperate situation of hundreds of thousands of people, encourage the refugees to take courage and also promote continued support. The openings were successful and met with good response. The special ambassador inaugurated five projects located in three Pakistani refugee camps and in the town of Peschawar.
In the huge Shamshatu refugee camp inhabited mainly by Uzbeks and Tajiks from the north of Afghanistan, a medical centre was opened, which will treat first and foremost children under the age of twelve. The original capacity has already more than doubled with around 80 children visiting the centre daily. The number of patients is expected to continue to rise. A vaccination programme against Hepatitis B will be carried out shortly.
A temporary school for around 500 children was also opened in Shamshatu. Morning classes for children under the age of eight have already started. Afternoon classes for girls aged between nine and 16 who have never been able to attend school will get underway within the next month.
In Peschawar, Princess Salimah Aga Khan opened a medical centre which will guarantee both in and out-patient treatment for children. Alongside the provision of basic medical care, operations can also be carried out. Preparations are also underway to launch a nutrition programme for undernourished refugee children.
In the camps in Badaber and Azakhel, where above all Pashtun refugees are forced to live in extremely cramped conditions, the special ambassador inaugurated two kindergartens and gave presents to the children. In Badaber the foundation stone was laid for an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School.
For further information, please see our report of 15.3.2002.