News / Asia

Report Finds Afghan War Displaced a Half Million Civilians

Afghan children pose for the camera, pausing during their work to sift the usable residue from the ashes of coal used at a brick factory during the cold days of a harsh winter in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghan children work to make money to suppo
Afghan children pose for the camera, pausing during their work to sift the usable residue from the ashes of coal used at a brick factory during the cold days of a harsh winter in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghan children work to make money to suppo
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An international human rights group says fighting in Afghanistan has displaced half a million people who lack access to adequate housing, food and schools.

London-based Amnesty International said in a report Thursday that the situation is a "horrific humanitarian and human rights crisis."

According to the report, the displaced are living in settlements that lack food, proper sanitation and health care. At least 28 children have died in harsh conditions in camps around the capital, Kabul.  Government estimates say harsh conditions have claimed at least 40 lives around the country in the last few weeks.

Following the report's release Thursday, Amnesty's legal and policy director, Michael Bochenek, told reporters that the number of displaced Afghans continues to grow.

"We have vast numbers of Internally Displaced People in Afghanistan resulting from the conflict, a rate of something like 400 people per day. The number of displaced people has increased every year since 2008 and at the beginning of this year we are looking at, at least half a million people, in Afghanistan alone, who have been internally displaced largely as a result of the conflict," Bochenek said.

Amnesty International says Afghan government rules have kept humanitarian groups from providing proper aid, and called on officials to remove the barriers.

The group's director for Asia Pacific affairs, Sam Zarifi, tells VOA that the main problem is that many Afghan officials do not want to view those showing up to cities uninvited as victims or appropriate recipients of humanitarian aid.

"The municipal authorities have no plans and very few resources to help them, and they basically want to pretend that these people are not really there," Zarifi stated.

The group is urging international and Afghan forces to address the problems, and for the Taliban to allow aid into areas it controls.

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Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
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Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
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