Toys are scarce in Mile 46 Camp, a dusty collection of 1,200 tents in southwestern Afghanistan. Muhammad Dawood, 5, pretends that a cardboard box with a rope attached is a car. His 35-year-old father worries about his family's prospects in what one aid worker calls "a moonscape covered in tents."
The Dawood family abandoned their Afghan home in ancient Herat after the United States began bombing the Taliban in October. "We spent seven days to get to the camp—four days in a car and three days by foot," the elder Dawood told Christianity Today. Dawood is thankful for the handful of relief agencies that have come to Mile 46 to help the 5,000 to 6,000 refugees.
International aid is trickling into Afghanistan, but it may not be enough. At a January conference in Tokyo, leaders of 61 nations and 20 aid agencies pledged $4.5 billion in aid through 2005. The U.S. government has promised $296 million in humanitarian assistance this year.
United Nations officials, however, estimate the need at $15 billion for 10 years. The U.N. wants to rebuild an Afghan police force, provide operating funds to the interim government, restart farming, and rebuild war-damaged roads and bridges.
An estimated 1.3 million Afghans, including the Dawoods, are displaced within Afghanistan's borders. Another 3.5 million Afghans crowd refugee camps, mostly in Pakistan and Iran.
'We Can Help'
The Iranian government set up the Mile 46 Camp just across the Afghan border from the Iranian city of Zabol, near a southwestern border of Pakistan. The camp sits on a desolate, flat stretch of land that remains closed. The Iranian Red Crescent (the Islamic counterpart to the Red Cross) manages it, while Christian relief groups and other organizations provide direct services. ...1