December 10th marks the U.N. Human Rights Day, celebrating and upholding the indispensable and crucial declaration of universal human rights. On the eve of this event, I visited a refugee camp housing 700 families in Kabul. Conditions in refugee camps can be deplorable, intolerable. Here, the situation is best described as surreal. As I approach the entrance to the camp with my friends Nematullah, Zarghuna and Henrietta, we are overcome by the stench emanating from an open sewer filled with filth. I ask myself, “Can this be real?”
Inside the camp, primitive mud huts are separated by narrow walkways. When the inevitable snow comes, the ground inside and outside the homes will be muddy until the mud freezes. Plastic has been placed over some of the doors and roofs, in hopes of providing insulation from the coming cold. Mothers in the camp tell us winter months are unbearably hard. Children become sick at the onset of winter and they don’t recover until spring arrives. People burn plastic, boots, clothing, and water bottles for fuel, but when those resources are depleted, they rely solely on heavy blankets to protect them from the cold.
A single water pump serves all 700 families, and the water isn’t even potable. It needs to be boiled for twenty minutes before use.
Latrines here are the “traditional type,” simple holes dug in the ground.
Our visit was arranged by Nematullah, an Afghan Peace Volunteer. A friend of…