HELMAND PROVINCE - Conflicts and floods have forced hundreds of families to leave their homes in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province in recent months. A joint assessment conducted by WFP and other UN agencies, together with the Afghan government’s local Department of Refugees and Repatriation as well as the Provincial National Disaster Management Authority, found that more than 1,600 families have taken temporary refuge in Lashkargah city, the capital of Helmand province. Of this number, about 1,400 families had to flee their villages due to ongoing fighting, a number of families are forced returnees from Iran and around 200 families were affected by a recent flood in Helmand.
WFP together with other humanitarian agencies has distributed food and other basic necessities to each of these families. The three-month food ration includes wheat, vegetable oil, pulses and salt, while other agencies distributed emergency supplies such as tarpaulins, blankets, water containers and kitchen set.
Seventy-year-old Bashar is from the Kajaki district in the east of Helmand, 200 km from the provincial capital. “I fled my village and came to Lashkargah after two of my sons were killed in fighting,” he explains. He and his wife live with his remaining six sons and seven daughters.
While thanking WFP for the food assistance, Bashar was worried about the future for his family and other refugees in Helmand. “I have a large family; this amount of food will only last us for a month. We have nothing.”
Like most of the refugees, Bashar and his sons were farmers before leaving their home. “We had our own houses in our villages, and we were working on our land. Here, in a small city like Lashkargah it’s very difficult to find daily work.”
Helmand has been one of Afghanistan‘s most insecure provinces for years, and thousands of its residents have fled their villages due to fighting. Besides the provincial capital, many of them head to Afghanistan’s larger cities such as Kabul, Kandahar and Herat, where they live in informal camps, sometimes for years.