U.N. hands out aid to Afghan bombing victims
By Michael Steen
Wednesday November 21, 8:58 PM
KABUL (Reuters) - The United Nations handed out blankets, tents and food on Wednesday to Kabul residents made homeless by the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan.
Hojnawab, 48, was one of the 120 heads of families handpicked to receive help. He said his house had been destroyed by a stray U.S. bomb just before the hardline ruling Taliban retreated eight days ago.
"My house is near a military base, and one bomb which missed it landed near us," he said. "I am neither angry nor happy. We know the bombs were aimed at terrorists."
Filippo Grandi of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the main aim for aid agencies was ensuring that people displaced by fighting could return to their homes where they could be better cared for than in a tent city.
Afghanistan, ravaged by 20 years of war, has up to one million internal refugees and three to four million outside the country, according to U.N. estimates.
Those still in areas where fighting is taking place, such as the south and the northern region around the besieged city of Kunduz, cannot be reached by Western organisations due to security concerns.
Khaled Oria, who runs Afghan aid agency RCD, said his organisation's network could reach into central Afghanistan, but all aid operations needed a cessation of fighting to do their work properly.
Even in Kabul many people are wary about what will happen if the Northern Alliance does not relinquish control of the city to a more broad-based government.
"We are looking at the future," said Khaled, standing outside a school where the U.N. was distributing tents. "We cannot change yesterday and we cannot say anything about tomorrow."
Hojnawab, happy to receive a tent to shelter his family, said he hoped to get back to work as a truck driver if Kabul remained peaceful.
"For five years under the Taliban I did nothing," he said. "But they mostly left me alone because I had a beard."
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