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linked prominently from the top page...try, for example, these three...


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To conclude, for those who wonder what the results of the massacre of
Afghanistan will be...this article clarifies n very few words. Beyond
the collateral deaths by bombing, the far larger calamity which is not
accidental at all, but waas entirely predictable and predicted, involves
food, shelter, and lonely, ignominious death. The U.S. chose policies
that all concerned agreed could kill millions. Only the unforeseen early
collapse of the Taliban prevented holocaust, but even with that
unforeseen luck, the outcome is far worse than most contemplate.


By the BBC's David Loyn in western Afghanistan
Monday, 4 February, 2002

Tens of thousands of people face starvation this winter in western
Afghanistan - despite a huge international aid effort. About seven
million people depend on aid in Afghanistan - but the disruption to
supplies during last year's fighting broke a vulnerable food chain.
Tuberculosis is spreading among people weakened by hunger. The worst
affected area is the mountainous province of Badghis, in western
Afghanistan. Half of the houses in the remote mountain village of Siah
Sangh are empty. Some villagers have taken refuge in squalid camps
around the nearby city of Herat. Other have died of hunger or related
diseases. Aid vehicles carrying food and medicine plough through mud and
dirt tracks, trying to reach villages like Siah Sangh.

Lack of doctors

But when we get to the end of the road, all we can do is walk - as do
most people who live in these inaccessible areas. Our guide is a boy
aged only 13 or 14, who carries a Kalashnikov rifle. He has spent the
morning walking to the village, carrying medicine for his brother. He
doesn't know what his brother is suffering from - but the medicine he is
carrying is for tuberculosis. There is no doctor in his village, but he
says he's lucky to live only a few hours' walk from the clinic. Asked
why he carries a gun, he replies that it is for hunting, to shoot a bird
that might be food for his family.


Climbing up a narrow canyon, we reach a graveyard on the hill above that
seems to dwarf the village. We find a woman praying beside the grave of
the one-year-old baby she lost this winter. "My child died of hunger. He
was pale and weak, he could not move and he died because we did not have
anything to give him." Until last summer, there were still a few sheep
and cattle in Siah Sangh. But now the last animals have been sold, and
families have resorted to selling their own daughters for grain.

Food as money

The dowry system has always given girls a value, but it is the first
time that seven-year-olds have been sold off for a few sacks of wheat,
villagers say. Grain is the new currency in the mountains. Much of the
food which has come in this weekend has gone straight to "grain lenders"
in the bazaar. Last year they gave villagers food as credit. Now the
villagers have to repay their creditors before they can eat themselves.
An Oxfam aid worker explains the system: "When we are distributing the
food a very big part of this food is going back to pay the shopkeepers,"
he says. "Even if they are hungry they have to pay their debts back to
the shop keepers." The only answer for Oxfam is to pump in more food to
fill the backlog. They lost three months during the fighting and in that
vacuum people died. Informal camps have developed around grain
distribution points because many people are too weak to carry their food
home. As a desperate last resort, some have turned to eating a sort of
clover which grows in the grass and barren fields - where wheat, barley
and watermelons were once cultivated.

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