Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, December 14, 2007

Widespread suffering plagues remote Ghazni district

An article in Wednesday’s New York Times chronicles the circumstances in the Nawa District of Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province, where the level of Taliban infiltration is high and the government’s presence is barely discernable.

Many villagers in Nawa have not seen medics for years and they line up to get help for their suffering children from American medics.

According to the article: “A catalog of pediatric suffering quickly formed into queues: children with grotesque burns and skin infections, distended scrapes and scorpion and spider bites, bleeding ears, dimmed eyes or heavy, rolling coughs. Some were bandaged in dirty rags. Others were in wheelbarrows because they lacked the strength to walk.”

Afghanistan remains hobbled by underdevelopment, poverty and illiteracy, a legacy of decades of war. The population’s health problems are acute. But the problems in areas like these villages, the residents said, have been aggravated by the continuing insurgency and the harsh edicts of the Taliban, whose rule survived in such remote places even after it lost control of Kabul, the Afghan capital, late in 2001,” the article later adds.

In Nawa, the “degree of poverty is complete,” the article says. “The villages have no electricity. Many people use the same irrigation ditches to wash, clean their plates, butcher meat, brush their teeth and drink. The canals are lined with animal waste. Few children are seen wearing winter clothes.”

The medic for Second Platoon, B Company, Pfc. Corey R. Ball, was asked on one of his recent patrols to treat not only infected cuts and persistent colds, but also retardation, blindness, autism, deafness and epilepsy. “We are medics,” he said. “They want us to be miracle workers.”

According to the article, the U.S. military will continue to reach out to Nawa and has “arranged for several recent patrols…to distribute winter coats and gloves to the children. In many villages, some children were barefoot and wearing a single layer of clothes. The temperature dips well below freezing each night.”

For the full article, click here.


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