Child returnees from Pakistan contracting diseases

KABUL(SW) – With the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, some of them in special camps for returnees in Kandahar and Nangarhar say that they have contracted various diseases due to lack of access to clean water, toilets and proper shelter.

Shir Ali, one of the returnees in the Spin Boldak camp and Ahmadullah, one of the returnees in the Torkham camp, say that the cold and polluted air and lack of access to enough clean water have caused them and their children to fall ill.

Shir Ali adds: “The weather is cold, since we arrived, we and our children are all sick. We all have pneumonia and colds, the night is very cold, clean water is not available. We are facing many problems.”

Ahmadullah also adds: “There is a lot of dust, there are a lot of people, there are few toilets, many people go to the same toilet.”

Save the Children also issued a statement warning about the spread of various diseases, especially respiratory infections and diarrhea in the camps of returnees from Pakistan.

This organization said that in the past month, more than 3,000 cases of acute respiratory infection and 1,200 cases of diarrhea among children were registered in the clinics of this organization in Torkham and Spin Boldak crossings.

“Thousands of Afghan refugees are experiencing alarming levels of serious illness, including dangerous acute diarrhea among families with limited access to clean water and forced to defecate in the open. Severe respiratory infections are likely due to prolonged exposure to dust storms.”

However, the officials in the Ministry of Public Health assures that they have full preparations to prevent the further spread of these diseases among the returnees.

Sharaf Zaman Amarkhil, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Health, says that the provision of services in the distribution of drinking water, clean food and medicine among the returnees from Pakistan is going on in a standard way.

He adds: “Since the deportation of immigrants from Pakistan has started, the congestion was very high, thousands of Afghans did not have access to clean water and safe food in the first days. Because of this, when they stayed there for two or three days, they contracted diseases. Because the environment was also dusty. So far, OPID services have been provided to 62,000 people.”

Two days ago, the World Health Organization warned of the possibility of the spread of infectious diseases among those returning from Pakistan.