Afghan displaced in Mile 46 and Makaki camps

"The poorest who cannot even afford the price for transport in a truck have to walk here or stay where they are. I saw many of them on the road. Do I think there'll be many displaced? For sure, in many places on this way. The country is too insecure."
On November 17, MSF staff members gathered brief accounts from people in the Makaki and Mile 46 camps, two camps for the displaced in the south-west of Afghanistan. MSF has been gathering information about where they came from, what they encountered on the road and the general situation in various regions of Afghanistan. There are about 5,000 displaced at Mile 46 camp and they came from various places in Afghanistan. Another 5,260 are in the Makaki camp, which is nearby. This camp is at its maximum capacity level. The people all claim to have fled their homes because of the bombing. The second most stated reason was the fighting. The third reason for was due to the ongoing drought. People often said they had lost a relative and that they had suffered badly during the bombing campaign. However trying to escape was made difficult as the borders to neighbouring countries were often closed. These camps house Tadjik, Pashtuns and Hazarat people. In Mile 46, people have come from many different places in Afghanistan and not only from the south west : Mazar-i-Sharif, Badghis, Bamyan, Kandahar and Nimruz province. In the Makaki camp people seem to be coming primarily from the surrounding villages, seeking security and assistance (the situation is very unclear in this camp, as are the reasons why they came to the camp). In the few last days 3,000 persons have been transferred, by Iranian authorities, from Makaki camp to the Mile 46 camp. In the Makaki camp, they were not registered so they spent at least one week without any assistance. As they had no shelter, they had to dig a hole in the ground to protect themselves from the dusty wind and the cold at night. According to one truck driver who was transporting people to the camp, there are many people, lacking the funds for a ride, who are walking to the camps or waiting at villages along the road for assistance. Accounts from people in the Mile 46 and Makaki camps: A young man, aged 20-25, said he had been fighting with Northern alliance forces before he fled from the Mazar area weeks ago. He fled towards Kandahar, then crossed the border to Quetta and reached Zahedan, Iran, as an illegal refugee. He has been arrested there and sent back to Afghanistan, to Mile 46. One man, approximately 45, with gray hair and whitening beard, has come with his family, two wives and three children under five. They have just arrived by truck. They are waiting for a tent and their first assistance after a long trip. They are waiting under the sun in the dust and stones, the women sitting on the ground next to their belongings, the very few things they could bring with them : a cooking set, carpet, blankets and clothes. The women are dressed in black, both breast-feeding their young babies, staring the dusty ground in front of them. They look exhausted. The 45 year-old man says: "We used to live in Farah when the air strikes started. It was terrible then. Heavy bombings hit the villages and the town. I lost two kids. "My house has been destroyed, so we had to leave. We were frightened because of the bombings and the fightings. We went close to Nimruz provinces to find a safer place to live, paying a truck driver. It took us four hours. But then, there were bombings and fights again and no way for us to stay there. So we decided to try and come the closest to the Iranian border. We knew this border was closed because we heard it on the Iranian radio. But we thought we could find some safe asylum. We did not have enough money to go to Pakistan." In Mile 46 camp, Pauline Horrill, an MSF doctor, saw an orphan who had lost his entire family in the bombing of his house in the region of Mazar. On his way to Mile 46, he had to beg. Another orphan, about 13-14, lost his whole family and was brought there by his uncle. His arm has been broken during the destruction of his house when his family died. A group of families coming from Mazar region fled the strikes. They say there were a lot of wounded and many houses are down. They said they also fled the fightings, were scared an had barely anything more to live on. They fled to the Iranian though they knew it was closed. But they thought the border area would anyway be safer and assistance available. An Afghan truck driver coming from the northern area of Nimruz who was transporting families mostly coming from Badghis region to Mile 46 said: "I take people on the way to the Iranian border. The road from here to Nimruz is okay, but the security is bad further on. "I take no more than 20 persons in each trip, I'll be living soon for another trip. There are many people who try to leave, many people looking for transport. They want to leave because of the bombings and the fights on the ground, because of the insecurity which doesn't allow them to live under safe conditions. "Many of them sell their belongings to pay for the transport and the cross border to Pakistan or Iran. Wwomen are selling their jewels. The most expensive (passage) is Pakistan, so those who cannot afford the price try to reach Iran. But they cannot cross the border and come here to a displaced camp. "The poorest who cannot even afford the price for transport in a truck have to walk here or stay where they are. I saw many of them on the road. Do I think there'll be many displaced? For sure, in many places on this way. The country is too insecure."