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Philippines: Government assistance to continue, President Aquino assures Borongan residents

Philippines - ReliefWeb News - 3 hours 30 min ago
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

BORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar, Dec. 23 -- President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday assured residents of Eastern Samar that the government would continue providing assistance to communities affected by Typhoon Ruby, even as it shifts from the relief phase to the recovery and rehabilitation phase.

President Aquino visited Borongan, one of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon, to assess the damage in the city, as well as to check the government’s recovery and rehabilitation efforts. He also visited Dolores, Eastern Samar.

Citing the importance of preparedness, the Chief Executive took note of the government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of Typhoon Ruby, as well as the coordination between the national government and local governments in responding to the typhoon.

“Sa mabuting pamamahala at maigting na paghahanda, maraming kababayan natin ang nailayo sa peligrong dulot ng bagyong Ruby. Gayundin naiwasan ang mas matinding pinsala na maaari sanang idinulot nito kung nagwalang-bahala tayo," he said.

Prior to Ruby’s landfall, President Aquino said 146,875 families underwent pre-emptive evacuation, while 318,532 family food packs were already prepositioned in the regional offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). He said disaster response teams were also deployed.

The President also noted the government’s efforts after the onslaught of Typhoon Ruby, saying that immediate relief for the affected communities were rendered.

Assistance to affected communities continues and the government is now shifting from the relief phase to the recovery and rehabilitation phase, he said, adding that in Borongan alone, 18,609 family food packs have already been distributed.

During his visit here, the President turned over to Borongan City Mayor Maria Fe Abunda a cheque worth P68 million for the Cash for Work Program. The assistance will benefit 17,457 family-beneficiaries.

President Aquino, in his speech, assured the residents that the government would continue monitoring its operations to ensure the fast recovery and rehabilitation of the typhoon-stricken communities.

He also thanked the people for their cooperation in the government’s efforts to move them to safer areas before the typhoon struck, and lauded local government units, humanitarian organizations and volunteers for their help.

“Makakaasa po kayo: Patuloy pa nating susubaybayan ang mga operasyon ng gobyerno upang mapabilis ang panunumbalik sa mas mabuti pa sa normal ng mga apektadong komunidad,” he said.

The President also led the distribution of kits for fixing shelters and hygiene kits to typhoon-affected residents.(PCOO/ PND (co)

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka Army Assists Flood Victims

Sri Lanka - ReliefWeb News - 3 hours 48 min ago
Source: Government of Sri Lanka Country: Sri Lanka

More than 7000 Army personnel have now been deployed in flood-affected areas in the Wanni, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa districts for rescue and relief operations on the directions of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake. With the coordination of District Secretariats, Navy, Air Force, Police and the Disaster Management Centre, Major General Boniface Perera, Commander, Security Force Headquarters - Wanni (SFHQ-W) has launched an emergency contingency plan for rescue and relief operations in the Wanni and Anuradhapura districts.

Providing 8000 packed meals to the victims with the support of philanthropists, Anuradhapura-based 21 Division Headquarters of the SFHQ-W quickly responded to the emergency and rescued civilians of 592 families in their areas of responsibility before relocating them in temporary shelters.

Civilians in Naachchaduwa, Thirappane, Rambewa, Tambuttegama, Galenbindunuwewa, Nochchiyagama, Kahatagasdigiliya, Rajanganaya, Thalawa and Palugaswewa areas remain the worst affected in the Wanni and the Anuradhapura District.

Army relief teams around the same time had to rush to the Anuradhapura prison building, submerged in flood water and rescued 1100 detainees who were afterwards relocated in other peripheral prisons elsewhere in coordination with prison authorities as alternative measures.

More than 30 Army personnel meanwhile restored the bund of the Palispathana Lake in Kahatagasdigiliya immediately when a patch of about 20 ft in length was threatened with imminent burst on Saturday (20), thus preventing a major disaster.

Similarly, more than 70 resident patients in the flood-affected Anuradhapura Army Base Hospital were immediately evacuated to peripheral medical centres since the Hospital premises, came under gushing water by Friday (19) early morning.

Army relief teams in the meantime managed to rescue 4 foreigners, stranded while on tour in Anuradhapura area on Saturday (20). Three teams of divers of the Special Forces, together with three boats are now in flood-hit areas in search of any remaining victims who would have been stranded.

Meanwhile, troops of the 54 Division based in Mannar rushed to flood-affected Panniwettuwan and Emilnagar areas and provided relief to more than 395 victims of 106 families after shifting all of them to 5 relief centres in the Mannar District.

Likewise, a similar rescue and relief operation is in progress in the East under the supervision of Major General Lal Perera, Commander, Security Force Headquarters - East (SFHQ-E) after reports confirmed the damages, being caused by ravaging floods in Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa districts in the past three days.

3026 civilians of 641 families in Trincomalee, 7108 civilians of 1887 families in Polonnaruwa and a total of 10146 civilians of Batticaloa District have been now evacuated and subsequently relocated in 10 relief centres in Trincomalee, 21 relief centres in Polonnaruwa and 34 relief centres in Batticaloa with the assistance of District Secretariats and Disaster Management Centre.

In the Eastern theatre of emergency operations, nearly 4000 Army officers and soldiers, Navy officers, together with 9 sailors and 4 airmen are working round the clock with the support of other agencies and more than 13 boats, belonging to the Navy. During past two days, the Army provided more than 15,000 cooked meal packets to the affected, housed in temporary places (Ends) Read 219 times

Central African Republic: Central African Republic - Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #5, Fiscal Year (FY) 2015

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 4 hours 15 min ago
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Insecurity, including attacks targeting relief workers and logistical constraints, continue to hamper humanitarian efforts.

  • More than 1.5 million people in CAR are experiencing acute food insecurity and require emergency food assistance.

  • As of December 19, international donors had committed $374.4 million, or 67 percent, of the $555 million requested in the 2014 CAR Strategic Response Plan (SRP).

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

  • The international community continues to express concerns regarding insecurity— including attacks targeting humanitarian actors and organizations—and resultant displacement and humanitarian needs in CAR. Since January, the U.N. has registered nearly 125 security incidents against humanitarian workers, which resulted in the death of 18 humanitarian workers.

  • In early December, OCHA released the Global Humanitarian Overview 2015 requesting $16.4 billion to deliver humanitarian assistance to an estimated 57.5 million people worldwide. The appeal requests nearly $613 million to assist 2 million of the 2.7 million people in need in CAR through the 2015 SRP and $298 million to assist nearly 461,200 CAR refugees in Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo through the CAR Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) 2015.

Central African Republic: Central African Republic - Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #5, Fiscal Year (FY) 2015

Chad - ReliefWeb News - 4 hours 15 min ago
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Insecurity, including attacks targeting relief workers and logistical constraints, continue to hamper humanitarian efforts.

  • More than 1.5 million people in CAR are experiencing acute food insecurity and require emergency food assistance.

  • As of December 19, international donors had committed $374.4 million, or 67 percent, of the $555 million requested in the 2014 CAR Strategic Response Plan (SRP).

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

  • The international community continues to express concerns regarding insecurity— including attacks targeting humanitarian actors and organizations—and resultant displacement and humanitarian needs in CAR. Since January, the U.N. has registered nearly 125 security incidents against humanitarian workers, which resulted in the death of 18 humanitarian workers.

  • In early December, OCHA released the Global Humanitarian Overview 2015 requesting $16.4 billion to deliver humanitarian assistance to an estimated 57.5 million people worldwide. The appeal requests nearly $613 million to assist 2 million of the 2.7 million people in need in CAR through the 2015 SRP and $298 million to assist nearly 461,200 CAR refugees in Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo through the CAR Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) 2015.

Central African Republic: Central African Republic - Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #5, Fiscal Year (FY) 2015

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 4 hours 15 min ago
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Insecurity, including attacks targeting relief workers and logistical constraints, continue to hamper humanitarian efforts.

  • More than 1.5 million people in CAR are experiencing acute food insecurity and require emergency food assistance.

  • As of December 19, international donors had committed $374.4 million, or 67 percent, of the $555 million requested in the 2014 CAR Strategic Response Plan (SRP).

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

  • The international community continues to express concerns regarding insecurity— including attacks targeting humanitarian actors and organizations—and resultant displacement and humanitarian needs in CAR. Since January, the U.N. has registered nearly 125 security incidents against humanitarian workers, which resulted in the death of 18 humanitarian workers.

  • In early December, OCHA released the Global Humanitarian Overview 2015 requesting $16.4 billion to deliver humanitarian assistance to an estimated 57.5 million people worldwide. The appeal requests nearly $613 million to assist 2 million of the 2.7 million people in need in CAR through the 2015 SRP and $298 million to assist nearly 461,200 CAR refugees in Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo through the CAR Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) 2015.

Iraq: Iraq: Population Movement - Revised Emergency Appeal n° MDRIQ006

Iraq - ReliefWeb News - 4 hours 38 min ago
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic

Summary

This revised Emergency Appeal (originally launched in July 2014) seeks a total of CHF 19m (increased from 6.4m) in support of the Iraq Red Crescent’s capacity to respond to the needs of IDPs and Syrian refugees affected by the Iraq and Syria crises respectively, with a focus on the delivery of food and basic non-food items, hygiene kits, winterization assistance, and disaster preparedness and disaster management capacity building. The planned Iraq Red Crescent response reflects the current situation and information available at this point of the evolving operation, and will be adjusted based on further developments and ongoing assessments.

Central African Republic: CAR Archbishop Steps in to Protect Muslims

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 4 hours 49 min ago
Source: Voice of America Country: Central African Republic

Nick Long

BANGUI— A Roman Catholic archbishop in the Central African Republic grappled with a knife-wielding militiaman who was threatening to kill a Muslim child, according to eye-witnesses of the incident Sunday. Outnumbered and unarmed, the archbishop of Bangui and his medical team held off what was described as a bloodthirsty mob until the sick girl and her parents could be driven to safety.

Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga had spent four days with his medical team giving free care to hundreds of people in villages around the town of Yaloke, about 225 kilometers from Bangui.

One of the settlements was predominantly Peul - a Muslim ethnic group that has sided with the Seleka rebels in the past two years of conflict. The Peul community has been a frequent target of the mostly Christian anti-balaka militia.

While in the village, the archbishop and his team decided to take a sick eight-year-old girl, with her parents, to Bangui to be treated at the hospital.

Although the team had the protection of U.N. peacekeepers in the villages, their travel to and from Bangui was without any kind of military escort.

Returning to Bangui, the archbishop and his team were stopped by the anti-balaka at a roadblock 26 kilometers north of Bangui.

A doctor with the team, Elkana Ndawatcha, told VOA what happened next.

“The anti-balaka had a grenade and they threatened to throw it at our cars" if the group tried to leave. “They also had knives," he said, and they dragged a Peul out of one of the cars and were going to kill him.

Ndawatcha says Archbishop Nzapalainga intervened and grabbed the arm of a man who was about to draw a knife. The man pulled out the knife and the archbishop was left holding the sheath.

The doctor said that the eight people with the archbishop had to argue and fight with the 10 anti-balaka for 15 minutes before they could get away.

He said finally they got the Peuls back into the car and fled with them in two vehicles, while the archbishop stayed behind with the other two cars and restrained the anti-balaka.

A local journalist, who also witnessed the incident, Jovis Ouakara, confirmed the account. The sick girl made it to the archbishop’s house and was transferred to a hospital.

Ndawatcha said the incident happened next to a roadblock manned by Central African police, or gendarmes.

He said they were "about 15 meters from a gendarmerie roadblock but none of the gendarmes intervened to help."

Many observers have questioned the neutrality of the Central African security forces in the CAR’s sectarian conflict.

The Catholic Church is one of the few organizations still providing any medical aid in the villages of the CAR, and its teams often face harassment from armed groups.

Commenting on the Sunday incident, missionary Father Patrick Mbea - head of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in the CAR - says this conflict is not one of religion because the actions of the anti-balaka can in no way be described as Christian.

Pakistan: Daily Emergency & Response Situational Information Report, 22 December 2014

Pakistan - ReliefWeb News - 5 hours 3 min ago
Source: US Agency for International Development, iMMAP Country: Pakistan

Update includes the following:

Sindh Updates
Drought Update
Daily Health Report of District Tharparkar by DHO as on 21-12-2014
PDMA Sindh Emergency Contact Details
Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) Response to Drought Affected in Tharparkar Updates as of 21-12-2014
B. Health Education & Awareness
Polio Updates
28th Polio Case Confirmed in Sindh as of 18-12-2014
Nationwide Updates
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Activities Updates as of 19-12-2014
Supporting Community Resilience (SCORE) Project Review Board Meeting
Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF) Activities in District as of 20-12-2014
Polio Case Reported in Balochistan Updates as on 19-12-2014
4 day Weather Forecast 23rd – 26th Dec, 2014
Tharparkar Drought Situation Map as of 21-12-2014
Weather Update Map of Pakistan as of 22-12-2014
Temperature Situation Update Map of Pakistan as of 22-12-2014

Indonesia: Indonesia: Province Infographic - Central Kalimantan (27 December 2014)

Indonesia - ReliefWeb News - 5 hours 53 min ago
Source: Government of Indonesia, UN Population Fund, UN Development Programme, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Food Programme Country: Indonesia

Colombia: Presidente Santos ordena mantener la atención y vigilancia en la zona afectada por la avalancha en el Cauca

Colombia - Chad - 5 hours 54 min ago
Source: Government of Colombia Country: Colombia

Bogotá, 22 dic (SIG).

​• “Desde el comienzo, desde que se presentó ese alud, hemos estado al frente de la situación. La Policía también y la Fuerza Aérea también. Estamos pendientes, porque aparentemente van a seguir las lluvias y por eso hay que estar alertas”, afirmó el Mandatario al programa de televisión ‘Agenda Colombia’.

El Presidente de la República, Juan Manuel Santos, ordenó mantener la atención y vigilancia en los municipios de Bolívar y Mercaderes en el departamento Cauca, tras el alud de tierra que se registró en la zona por causa de las lluvias y que dejó como saldo seis personas fallecidas y varios puentes y viviendas afectadas.

“Desde el comienzo, desde que se presentó ese alud, hemos estado al frente de la situación. La Policía también y la Fuerza Aérea también. Estamos pendientes, porque aparentemente van a seguir las lluvias y por eso hay que estar alertas”, aseguró el Mandatario en declaraciones al programa de televisión ‘Agenda Colombia’.

El alud, generado por el represamiento de las aguas de un río, en medio de las fuertes lluvias que han caído en los últimos días en la región, afectó seis puentes vehiculares, un puente peatonal y tres viviendas en el municipio de Bolívar. Y en el municipio de Mercaderes dejó seis muertos y una afectación de un puente vehicular.

Según Carlos Iván Márquez, Director de la Unidad Nacional para la Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres (UNGRD), se descartó una posible amenaza posterior de algún represamiento adicional.

“Una de las situaciones que preocupaba era el represamiento como tal. Se hizo una inspección, un sobrevuelo sobre la zona y se descartó”, afirmó Márquez, quien dialogó vía telefónica con el Presidente Santos en este mismo programa televisivo.

El Director de la UNGRD indicó que se movilizaron los equipos de búsqueda y rescate pertenecientes al sistema, se inició la evaluación de estructuras y vías para dar solución y se emprenderá la instalación de los puentes afectados, entre otras acciones.

El Jefe de Estado puntualizó que la ayuda humanitaria es lo primordial para la comunidad afectada, así como la vigilancia del área afectada, el restablecimiento de la comunicación terrestre y la ayuda para que los damnificados puedan recuperar sus medios de vida.

Comoros: Comoros: Reference Map (2014)

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Comoros
Categories: RSS feeds

Botswana: Botswana: Reference Map (2014)

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Botswana
Categories: RSS feeds

Angola: Angola: Reference Map (2014)

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Angola
Categories: RSS feeds

Afghanistan: Afghanistan: Planned Winter Response 2014-2015 (Updated 15 December 2014)

Afghanistan - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 8 min ago
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan

Philippines: With Hagupit, Filipinos show "unwavering determination”

Philippines - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 33 min ago
Source: Handicap International Country: Philippines

In the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit, Handicap International’s teams in the Philippines are working in the province of Samar, which was severely affected by the storm. Handicap International’s activities in the province of Leyte continue.

Despite the difficulties accessing the villages affected by Typhoon Hagupit in Samar province, Handicap International teams were able to directly access ten barangays (small villages) in the area by boat, just days after Typhoon Hagupit hit, in order to assess the population’s needs. The team provided initial emergency assistance directly to the affected populations.

"In the province of Samar, thousands of people lost their homes,” said Marlène Dussauge, Field Coordinator for Handicap International. “They have been left with nothing. In order to assist the local population with the reconstruction work, Handicap International has distributed emergency shelter kits to 500 households—around 2,500 people."

The organization also distributed tool kits containing hammers, saws, and cutting shears to the local authorities in 18 barangays, and clearing equipment in seven other barangays. Handicap International also provided assistance to the Rural Health Unit in Villareal, supplying wheelchairs and crutches, as well as an examination table. Other fundamental needs also have to be met. "Lots of people have lost the resources they need to earn a living,” Dussauge said. “It is vital that the population is helped to recover their ability to earn a living."

In the Tacloban area, severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan in November, Typhoon Hagupit had no serious consequences for Handicap International’s existing projects.

"In the wake of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, we launched the construction of 200 permanent shelters for the most vulnerable,” Dussauge said. “Our teams have resumed the construction work which should be finalized by the end of December. We are also continuing with our inclusive activities in around 30 Child Friendly Spaces. Finally, the new working tools distributed to the most vulnerable in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan are still in good condition. The next distribution of pigs will take place in January.

“I am impressed by the resilience of the affected populations. The day after the disaster they immediately set to work repairing their houses and clearing the debris. They have demonstrated unwavering determination. There is absolutely nothing that can stop them.

Pakistan: School Dropout Rate Soars for Afghan Refugees

Pakistan - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 35 min ago
Source: Inter Press Service Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

By Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Dec 22 2014 (IPS) - “Our children quitting school is the greatest pain we have suffered during our troublesome lives here,” says Multan Shah, a vegetable-seller in a shantytown of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of Pakistan’s four provinces.

Once a resident of the capital Kabul, war drove Shah to relocate to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in 1985, where he settled in the Jallozai refugee camp. He lived hand-to-mouth but was able to send his two sons and daughter to a free school run by a foreign-funded NGO.

Thousands of children have benefitted from such schools in some Afghan refugee camps, but only up to sixth grade – after that, the vast majority of students quit their studies because their families can’t afford to pay for private school.

“My two sons graduated from sixth grade this March but we couldn’t enroll them in the next grade because we don’t have money to pay the fee,” Shah says.

Gaffer Ahmed, principal of the Mirwais Public School in Peshawar, says they used to get assistance from local NGOs and individuals for free education of students up to tenth grade, but that ended in 2010.

“Many students aren’t able to continue their education as they can’t bear the cost now,” he confirms.

Ahmed says his school had provided free education to a few gifted students, but that most Afghan refugees in Pakistan faced harsh economic conditions and a majority of parents couldn’t pay the expenses. He himself is unable to afford it.

“Private schools charge about 10 dollars per month. I earn 60, which is too little to pay for my children’s tuition,” he laments.

Mastoora Stanikzai, director of the Abu Ali Senna Afghan Teachers’ Training Institute in Peshawar, is worried about the growing number of dropouts.

“Only 7,000 students reached grade 12, out of 230,000 students admitted every year to Afghan schools in Pakistan,” she says, fearing what the future holds for these children.

Private schools number about 270, while the free primary-level schools run by NGOs number about 100, she says.

Stanikzai says some schools also offer two-year diploma courses in midwifery and business administration to refugee students in collaboration with the Afghanistan government.

Her institute has trained 1,350 teachers, half of them women. About 125 teach at the Afghan schools.

Pakistan has 1.9 million legally registered Afghan refugees and an equal number who are unregistered, according to U.N. figures. The free schools require refugees to show a Proof of Registration card to enroll their children.

“Non-availability of funding has affected the female students the most,” says Stanikzai, who also heads the Refugee Women’s Organisation. “People wanting to admit their daughters to school are finding it hard in view of the cost.

“As a result, we see young girls and boys wandering the streets, collecting garbage,” she says.

Farkhanda Maiwandi, 11, tells IPS that she used to go to a school in the Khazana refugee camp in Peshawar, where she passed grade six.

“After that I sat home because my father, a daily labourer, cannot spare the money to enroll me at a private school. It is painful to be out of school but we don’t have a choice,” she says.

Maiwandi says that she knows at least 10 girls who quit school. “Only a few girls managed to get admitted to grade seven because their parents could afford it,” she says.

Noorullah Ahmedzai, an Afghan refugee in the Haripure district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is extremely upset over the lack of education for his two children.

“My one son and one daughter studied at a refugees’ school in a camp. Last year, they completed grade six and were told that they wouldn’t be given further education because they have to get admitted to a private school,” he says.

“We have enrolled my son at school but my daughter is staying home because I don’t have money to pay the fees for both,” he says.

“My daughter weeps when her brother goes to school every morning. She now takes lessons at home from her brother. I have a dream to see my children educated,” he says.

Edited by Kitty Stapp

Pakistan: School Dropout Rate Soars for Afghan Refugees

Afghanistan - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 35 min ago
Source: Inter Press Service Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

By Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Dec 22 2014 (IPS) - “Our children quitting school is the greatest pain we have suffered during our troublesome lives here,” says Multan Shah, a vegetable-seller in a shantytown of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of Pakistan’s four provinces.

Once a resident of the capital Kabul, war drove Shah to relocate to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in 1985, where he settled in the Jallozai refugee camp. He lived hand-to-mouth but was able to send his two sons and daughter to a free school run by a foreign-funded NGO.

Thousands of children have benefitted from such schools in some Afghan refugee camps, but only up to sixth grade – after that, the vast majority of students quit their studies because their families can’t afford to pay for private school.

“My two sons graduated from sixth grade this March but we couldn’t enroll them in the next grade because we don’t have money to pay the fee,” Shah says.

Gaffer Ahmed, principal of the Mirwais Public School in Peshawar, says they used to get assistance from local NGOs and individuals for free education of students up to tenth grade, but that ended in 2010.

“Many students aren’t able to continue their education as they can’t bear the cost now,” he confirms.

Ahmed says his school had provided free education to a few gifted students, but that most Afghan refugees in Pakistan faced harsh economic conditions and a majority of parents couldn’t pay the expenses. He himself is unable to afford it.

“Private schools charge about 10 dollars per month. I earn 60, which is too little to pay for my children’s tuition,” he laments.

Mastoora Stanikzai, director of the Abu Ali Senna Afghan Teachers’ Training Institute in Peshawar, is worried about the growing number of dropouts.

“Only 7,000 students reached grade 12, out of 230,000 students admitted every year to Afghan schools in Pakistan,” she says, fearing what the future holds for these children.

Private schools number about 270, while the free primary-level schools run by NGOs number about 100, she says.

Stanikzai says some schools also offer two-year diploma courses in midwifery and business administration to refugee students in collaboration with the Afghanistan government.

Her institute has trained 1,350 teachers, half of them women. About 125 teach at the Afghan schools.

Pakistan has 1.9 million legally registered Afghan refugees and an equal number who are unregistered, according to U.N. figures. The free schools require refugees to show a Proof of Registration card to enroll their children.

“Non-availability of funding has affected the female students the most,” says Stanikzai, who also heads the Refugee Women’s Organisation. “People wanting to admit their daughters to school are finding it hard in view of the cost.

“As a result, we see young girls and boys wandering the streets, collecting garbage,” she says.

Farkhanda Maiwandi, 11, tells IPS that she used to go to a school in the Khazana refugee camp in Peshawar, where she passed grade six.

“After that I sat home because my father, a daily labourer, cannot spare the money to enroll me at a private school. It is painful to be out of school but we don’t have a choice,” she says.

Maiwandi says that she knows at least 10 girls who quit school. “Only a few girls managed to get admitted to grade seven because their parents could afford it,” she says.

Noorullah Ahmedzai, an Afghan refugee in the Haripure district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is extremely upset over the lack of education for his two children.

“My one son and one daughter studied at a refugees’ school in a camp. Last year, they completed grade six and were told that they wouldn’t be given further education because they have to get admitted to a private school,” he says.

“We have enrolled my son at school but my daughter is staying home because I don’t have money to pay the fees for both,” he says.

“My daughter weeps when her brother goes to school every morning. She now takes lessons at home from her brother. I have a dream to see my children educated,” he says.

Edited by Kitty Stapp

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