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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Afghans Displaced Within Country as Well as to Pakistan

Aired October 24, 2001 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting inside Afghanistan. Many refugees are trying to flee into Pakistan, but as our Satinder Bindra now tells us, tens of thousands are displaced actually right within Afghanistan itself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Without a home in their own country, cooking and eating under the open skies with only these flimsy tents as shelters from the searing heat in the summer and biting cold in the winter. Meet the residents of Kojagar (ph). They're here but Kojagar lies a few hundred kilometers south. Fifteen months ago, fighting forced all 1,500 residents to flee their homes. Now they seek shelter in Northern Alliance territory.

"When the Taliban stormed into our village," says Mowjee Khal, "there was a 14-year-old girl. The Taliban killed her and then we escaped here."

The walk into Northern Alliance territory, says the oldest person in this camp, 95-year-old Mowjee Khal, took three days. Except for infants and toddlers who rode on donkey back, all these children walked.

"Our children are begging for bread and money to feed their families," says Mowjee Khal. We have nothing to wear in the winter and to cover the bare feet of our children. We have no way to rescue ourselves from this bad luck."

(on camera): Other than odd jobs, most of the men here say they can't find any work. This entire community is now dependent on handouts from relief agencies. To make matters worse, even the drinking water in these wells is saltish and the nights are beginning to get very cold.

(voice-over): Life just couldn't get worse. None of the children here attend school. Their only nourishment is a dry scrap of bread. Still, their smile for the cameras is friendly and warm, and for all their troubles, these people display a remarkable resilience.

What stands out here is not poverty but pride. Everyone here looks forward to going back to Kojagar so they can rebuild their homes, start cultivating their fields again. But first, the Taliban forces have to be defeated and it's far from clear when that will happen.

"We can never return because our homes are under Taliban control," says Mowjee Khal. "We cannot go there until Northern Alliance troops capture it."

Ninety-five-year old Mowjee Khal feels helpless. Every day she says feels like an eternity. Since she's too old to work, Mowjee Khal spends her days cooking but that only occupies her hands. Her mind spends all its time thinking of her four sons, all killed fighting the Taliban.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, on the Kucha (ph) River in northeastern Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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