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Kamla is a resident of Surto Oad village in District Umerkot.  Kamla’s father, Mr. Mukesh Kumar, is the sole earner for her family, and was scarcely able to earn enough to support his household of eight people.  Women in these villages in rural Sindh are largely dependent on male family members for financial and social support.  It is extremely difficult for them to overcome cultural and social barriers to earn an income.  For Kamla, who is living with a disability, those barriers are especially difficult: “A I’m a physically disabled woman, I can’t go out for labor in agricultural fields as most of the women do.”

In spite of these difficulties, Kamla is resolved to support her family and help them to build a resilient future free of any financial worries.  “I have the art of embroidery. I can do embroidery work at my home also, and I can help my family to reduce financial burden.”

She believes that lack of education, ignorance of health issues and gender discrimination are the major obstacles to women’s empowerment in her community. She stated that when she was informed that an NGO (Community World Service Asia) was establishing an embroidery center at her village, a ray of hope was rekindled for her. She already knew the art of embroidery, but her work was never acknowledged and she did not receive due wages for her laborious work.

Despite having no formal vocational training, she is very skilled in embroidery and produces high quality work.  However, as she has been unable to properly market her products, her work remained underpaid.  “After taking the artisans’ skill test, I was informed that I have qualified the test and team selected me for the embroidery learning center. I was really glad to hear this news and was highly excited that now my skill will be improved and my work will be recognized with fair wages.”

Kamla explained how participating in the project will support her to earn a real income from her work: “After a three-month course on embroidery, and then an additional three months for production, I will be able to get an idea about marketing those products and what are the rates of market.  Then I can assist my father in terms of contributing income.”

Her father will also be engaged in the project activities as a gender activist.  Kamla shared how he is working to promote gender equality in the community after participating in Community World Service Asia’s TOT workshop for gender activists: “Since the training, he is delivering lectures on a regular basis with my neighbors and my relatives and motivates them to educate their daughters as well.” She is quite hopeful that the difference between male and female which society has created will now be reduced; women are now talking about their health issues with their male counterparts.

For Kamla, the most important impact of the project has been that she is now empowered to support her family.  “Around the clock, I remained in tension, wondering when I would be able to do something for my family. Now I have trust in myself that I can also help my family financially. Despite my physical disability, I can also be independent and can contribute my due share for the betterment of both my family and my community as well.”

“My husband, Habib Rehman, was killed six months ago when the militants attacked our village Dara-e-Robat in Chardara District in Kunduz. His death left us alone and very vulnerable as he was the only bread winner of the family. After his death, the conflict increased and since I feared for my children’s and my own life, we took with us whatever we could from our house and fled to Kunduz City. At that time, we felt Kunduz City would be a safe haven for us to live in and to start rebuilding our lives but it did not turn out that way. Although it was extremely difficult for me and is considered culturally shameful, I resorted to begging on the streets in order to feed my children.”

Mazari, Habib’s widow, also started working as a maid for wealthier families in a desperate attempt to earn more income for her six children. After a few weeks of the displacement, organizations arrived in Kunduz and provided humanitarian assistance to the displaced communities. Among these organizations was Community World Service Asia who assisted Mazari’s family among others with the provision of two month food rations. “This was very helpful as my tension eased and I did not have to worry about providing food to feed my children and could instead focus on looking for a job. With the assistance we received from Community World Service Asia and other organizations such as UNHCR, UNICEF and NRC, we began to feel a sense of hope towards living a better life,” said Mazari.

“Soon, Kunduz City became a war ground as well. The militants attacked the city and took control, followed by intense battles between them and the armed forces. I was terrified. We hid in our homes, unable to go out as that could mean an instant for us. The shops in the city were all closed; there was no water nor food items to cook meals with. We were left hungry even though we had dry food rations. My children were also frightened, especially of the hammering sounds of weapons and bombs exploding, which continued day and night.”

Many people, including women and children, were killed on the street that Mazari lived on. After three days of continued fighting, Mazari rushed to leave the war struck city with her children. The next morning, when the ongoing struggle seemed to have calmed, the helpless mother took the risk to come out of their shelter and started walking back to her own village. However upon reaching their village district, Mazari was informed that the situation there was still unstable and under militant siege. “I stood there confused and afraid, not knowing what to do next. After talking to the local communities there, I learnt that many people were migrating to Taluqan City of Takhar Province, which is the neighboring province to Kunduz. I was also given an address of a man who was transferring people to Takhar in his vehicle. I took my children along and stood at his door. I begged him to save children and me and to drive us to Taluqan. He finally agreed after pleading him for hours.”

Mazari has now relocated to Taluqan city. For the first two days, her children and her lived in a partially constructed house located inside a walled piece of land; mostly sleeping under the open sky. “The weather in Takhar is getting cooler especially during the night and it was becoming difficult to sleep and live in the open, especially for the children. I started looking for other displaced families in the city who would be interested in renting a house together. I found four such families from my own village and we finally found a house for all of us to rent out together.”

Even though the rent was not much, it was still expensive for Mazari to afford so she borrowed money from some relatives to contribute equally in the rent. The house they rented had five rooms so each family got a room. The tiny room in the house was home for Mazari and her five daughters and a son. As this destitute family fled Kunduz City in haste, they left most of their belongings in their house and did not have nothing in Taluqan. Neighbors and other displaced families sometimes assisted the families living in the house with food which all the five families shared, leaving insufficient amounts for each person to consume.

“We slept on the bare ground without any mattress or blanket. It was much better than sleeping in the open air but it was still quite cold. I was grateful to a kind family who gave me an old blanket, a quilt and a pillow which my children could take over them at night. We, the displaced community, approached the government but they did not provide us any assistance in Taluqan.  I am tired of running and I am fearful for my children and myself. Who will help us?” wept an exhausted Mazari.

Mazari is in contact with Community World Service Asia staff and has informed the staff of her return from Takhar to Kunduz city since now the government has taken back control of the city from the insurgents.  Upon return, she found the shelter she once lived in with her children before the Kunduz conflict completely destroyed. All of her belongings that she received from generous families and humanitarian agencies left there were burnt or looted. Mazari and her family, like hundreds other, are currently living without food and shelter in Kunduz city.

 

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Ms. Kainat is a teacher at one of Community World Service Asia’s Adult Literacy Centers, equipping rural women with basic literacy and numeracy skills.

  1. How did you become a teacher?

It was my childhood wish to become a teacher, so after passing my Intermediate examination I started teaching in private schools. Then I applied in UNICEF for an adult literacy project, where I started to teach adult women, who had never been to school. That was the start of my teaching experience.

  1. Why do you think it’s important for women in rural areas to have literacy skills?

It is commonly observed that women in rural areas are not allowed to go outside the home, whether it is for getting an education or to do any job, although they may want to.  I think it is important for women in rural areas to have literacy skills, because if they are literate then they can participate more efficiently in any development activities of their area, they can be able to read and write the basic literacy words and numbers which are also essential for their life. Not only this, but if they start their own business, this literacy skill can build up their confidence and help out them to keep the balance record of expenditure, profit and loss.

  1. Did you have any concerns before your first class? What were your expectations?

Yes, I had just one concern about what their response would be, as they are going to join literacy classes for the very first time in their life, but I had some expectations that by utilizing my experience I would try my level best to teach them.

  1. What teaching methodologies do you use? In what ways do the students find these to be effective?

I teach students through different activities like playing games and role plays. I bring them on stage or give them space for discussion to build their confidence level. I also motivate them by giving small gifts so that their interest level can be enhanced and they can be more encouraged.

  1. What progress have you observed in the students?

Before starting the adult literacy course, they were facing difficulty even in holding a pencil, in recognition and pronunciation of words. They were very shy in asking questions or coming forward, but after attending the classes they have become confident, they take part in different project related activities like the celebration of International Literacy Day. They are able to read and write their name, small words and sentences. Now they easily recognize their Computerized National Identity Card by the numbers written on that. They read the expiry date before using any medicine and are familiar with the basic concept of adding and subtraction.

  1. Has anything surprised you?

I was surprised when some of the women told me that initially their men were not allowing them to join the Adult Literacy Centre.  The men were discouraging them, but in spite of that, the women did not leave their hope to learn literacy skills and didn’t say, “Sorry, but we can’t join the ALC.”  They tried to motivate their men by telling them the benefits of the centre, and they continued their classes.

  1. What motivates you to teach these students?

These women have never been to school, but they know the value and importance of education. Whatever homework has been assigned, they try to complete it and also ask to extend the ALC classes to learn more and more. So their level of interest towards getting knowledge and learning to read and write motivates me to teach them.

  1. How do you hope that your classes will help them in the long-term?

I think that their level of interest for learning will help them to learn by themselves even more. Also, literacy skills will help them when they go on to use their vocational training [provided by Community World Service Asia] to support their livelihood.  They are also sharing the information and the knowledge which they learn from ALC classes with their children and family members.

  1. How do you think these classes benefit the community as a whole?

The community has become more aware of the importance of girl’s education.  The Village Organization has taken initiative to increase the enrolment of girls in the village school, women are now allowed to come for literacy classes from neighboring areas. The Village Organization is also planning to promote girls’ education in their surrounding villages.  In this way, the establishment of adult literacy is gradually bringing change in the community.

Community women are presenting a role-play on vote casting

David Smith, Regional Representative, DCA SARO & Rita Dhakal Jayasawal, Head of Humanitarian DCA SARO, distributing shields for the Best Activist to Ms. Sher Bano as part of the International Rural Women’s Day celebrations

Children from village Phul Jakhro take part in the role-play on children’s education

Ms. Mital delivering her comments on International Rural Women’s Day and welcoming guests and the community members

A role-play on the awareness of child marriages performed by the community women and children

The horrific bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan has once again illustrated the growing lack of respect for the Geneva Conventions and other international norms in conflicts around the world. This is having a catastrophic effect on civilian populations and on humanitarian workers.

The 24 members of the Start Network, all international NGOs with a global humanitarian reach, condemn this event and align ourselves fully with the call by MSF for an independent investigation through the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission (IHFFC).

The world is a safer place for all peoples when humanitarian action is respected. An IHFFC investigation, regardless of its outcome, will confirm that governments and people around the world value the Geneva Conventions and the protection of humanitarian workers. Even war has limits in a civilised world.

We call on the UN and member states, in particular those governments from the countries in which our network members are based, to implement this independent investigation without delay and commit to following up its findings.

For more information please contact:
Mike Noyes, Head of Humanitarian Response and Resilience, ActionAid UK
Tel: +44(0)7720 084 061
Email: mike.noyes@actionaid.org

Alexandre Brecher, Head of Communications, Start Network
Tel: +44(0)795 0908774
Email: a.brecher@savethechildren.org.uk

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Intense Armed conflict between Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs) has led to large-scale displacement in Kunduz, Takhar, Kunar, Sari-pul and Nangarhar provinces of Afghanistan. The currently affected areas were already hosting IDPs from other areas but with the recent crisis; those IDPs are displaced again and will also have to move along with the local people. The number of IDPs is increasing as the government of Afghanistan has also announced the continual of the military operation.

Based on UNHCR’s recent report, the conflict-induced internal displacement in the North, North East and Eastern regions of Afghanistan has increased in the last two months. As of UNOCHA’s recent report number approximately 10,000 families are displaced within the Northeast.

Present estimates suggest that by the end of the year, more than 48,500 families / 324,000 individuals may become displaced, which would make 2015 one of the worst years for conflict-induced displacement in Afghanistan since 2002. During the months June and July, 21 out of 34 Provinces in Afghanistan have been affected by forced movements of population due to conflict.

Kunduz Province: A rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation is reported in the city.  In May crisis in Khan Abad, Imam-shahib, Gultipa and some other parts of the province caused the displacement of thousands of families from Gultepa, Alchin, Telawka, Bozi Qandari, Hazrat Sultan, Qala-e-Zal, Dasht-e-Archi, Chardarah, Aliabad and other districts of Kuduz province. The families have been displaced to Kunduz Provincial Capital city and to some semi urban areas of the city.

As of the most recently, people started to flee from the city and most of the people moved to the villages in the adjacent districts of Aliabad, Chardarah, Emam saheb, Khanabad and some have moved south via Baghlan province to Kabul. Many families fleeing from Kunduz are moving towards Kabul. As per voice of America, 6,000 families have been displaced so far in Kunduz only. The recent clashes have also resulted in civilian casualties, people lost their crops which were ready to harvest and these fights have damaged their properties too.  Lack of relief services in Kunduz city is a major concern right now. WHO reported that emergency medical services and stocks of food are needed urgently. In Kunduz City water and electricity is cut off in many places.

Takhar Province: Intense clashes and quick shifting of territorial control between parties in conflict has provoked multiple displacements of people in Khuja Ghar District,  Baharak, Taloqan and Dashte-Qala districts of Takhar. A major conflict in the bordering districts of Kunduz and Takhar province has also caused displacement of population from Kunduz to Takhar. Sunatullah Taimour, spokesman of Takhar governor, told Pajhwok Afghan News that more than 6,000 families from Kunduz have moved to Taluqan, Baharak, Farkhar, Warsaj and Kalafgan districts.

In the areas of displacement, most of the families are living in crowded conditions and shared accommodations. They expressed the intention to return as soon as the situation improves. However, their houses and livelihoods have been totally destroyed. Shelter and food are needed for the displaced communities.

Nangarhar: Nangarhar province (especially Jalalabad city) has a large number of Afghan returnees from Pakistan. It also has a large population of conflict induced IDPs residing there from neighboring provinces like Laghman, Kunar, and Nuristan and also has a continuous influx of IDPs from remote districts particularly from Kot and Achin. Families are settling in Jalalabad, Behsud, Rodat and Shurkhrod districts, and also in the neighboring rural districts close to Achin. Nangarhar provincial capital is likely to remain the main receiver of displaced people from Laghman, Kunar and Nuristan provinces.

Response by Community World Service Asia: Community World Service Asia has been responding to the needs of IDPs in Kunduz Province providing monthly food package for two months with the support of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Direct contact with stakeholders in the affected areas, including local government, partners and those assisted during the recent response has been established. We are closely monitoring the situation and will plan a response based on the needs and gaps identified.

Contacts:
Allan A. Calma
Deputy Director
Disaster Management Program
Email: allan.calma@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 301 5801621

Muhammad Fazal
Associate Director
Emergencies/DRR/Climate Change
Email: fazil.sardar@communitryworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 332 5586134

Palwashay Arbab
Senior Communications Officer
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/339814//
Voice of America
UNOCHA Afghanistan

New wave of Displacement in Kunduz

Overall situation: Since April 24, 2015, the conflict between Afghanistan National Security Force (ANSF) and Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs) have intensified in the North, Northeast and East, especially in Kunduz, Takhar, Kunar and Sari-pul provinces. This has led to the displacement of thousands of families in Kunduz, Takhar and Nangarhar provinces.

All shops, public transport, NGOs and offices in Kunduz city have been shut down since the conflict intensified two days ago. Two hospitals in Kunduz city are operational at the moment. Kunduz Province currently remains one of the most unstable areas in Afghanistan. Most of the IDPs that had temporarily settled in Kunduz city have now moved to Ali Abad and Char Dara districts and some to Imam Sahib and Sar-dawra, ahilltop near Kunduz Airport. While other families have moved to Taluqan city in Takhar province. The inflow of IDPs to the outskirts of the Jalalabad city is similarly increasing following the intensifying conflict in the Kot, Achin, Agam, Chaparhar and Khugyani districts.

Conflict-induced displacement continues to be largely triggered by AOGs ground offensives and by the ANSF counteroffensives, often through large-scale military operations, including aerial bombardments. More recently, and on a more localized level in Eastern region, displacement has also been triggered by clashes between armed opposition groups. In several situations, no party in the conflict appears able to capitalize on and hold territorial gains made over time. As a result, the frontlines and control over areas rapidly shifts, causing swift population movements and rapid displacement cycles that are increasingly difficult to track. Nonetheless, our nationwide programs in Afghanistan continue to operate.

The affected communities are now rushing to safer grounds in a state of emergency. Most of them have had no time to take their belongings along with them.  Wherever these displaced populations will take refuge, they will be in immediate need of emergency assistance in the shape of food, non-food items (NFIs), health, shelter, cash grants and livelihood opportunities. The communities of Kunduz, Baghlan, Takhar, and Nangarhar provinces have recently been affected by floods as well which resulted in a major losses of food, health, shelter and other livelihood assets.

Response by Community World Service Asia: Community World Service Asia has recently been responding to the needs of IDPs in Kunduz Province providing monthly food package for two months with the support of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Direct contact with stakeholders in the area, including local government, partners and those assisted during the recent response has been established. We are closely monitoring the situation and will plan a response based on the needs and gaps identified.

Contacts:
Allan A. Calma
Deputy Director
Disaster Management Program
Email: allan.calma@communityworldservice.asia
Mobile: +92 301 5801621

Nejabat Khan Safi
Associate Director
Disaster Management Program
Email: nejabat.safi@communitryworldservice.asia
Mobile: +93 799 326 628

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Mobile: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
www.cnn.com
www.reuters.com
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