Afghanistan: keeping the roads open this winter

News and Press Release
Originally published
Paris, February 3, 2003 - SOLIDARITES, an international emergency humanitarian aid organisation which has been working in Afghanistan for over 20 years, is currently carrying out a mountain road construction and snow-clearing programme in the country's central region. Because in Afghanistan, keeping the roads open in winter is vital.
Hundreds of Afghan workers are currently working on a programme run by SOLIDARITES to keep the Pasroya mountain pass in central Afghanistan open, whose highest point reaches over 3,000 metres. With picks and spades, they are removing the snow and clearing this road without respite, in the biting cold. As Jamshid, a 22 year old working on the programme, explained in a UN press agency (IRIN) dispatch, this work enables them to receive 14 kilos of wheat per day, enough to survive through the winter.

SOLIDARITES has committed to keep five mountain passes open this winter in the extremely isolated and mountainous Hazaradjat region (central Afghanistan). However this programme does not only aim to provide economic assistance to the most vulnerable workers.

In past years, the village of Pasroya was totally inaccessible by vehicle, due to the lack of a practicable road. Several people who tried to make the journey on foot last winter died of cold, and packs of wolves prowl the area continuously. Neither the provision of fresh supplies nor medical evacuation were conceivable for this village's residents. SOLIDARITES decided to build a road from Bamyan to Yakawlang via Pasroya, and to keep this road open during the winter snowfalls.

Guillaume Limal, SOLIDARITES' regional coordinator in Bamyan, makes quite clear how vital this type of programme is : "keeping roads open is of the utmost importance to allow access to urgent medical treatment, to transport humanitarian aid, and for trade purposes. It also allows the reconstruction of ruined houses to continue".

Whilst stability in Afghanistan still needs to be ensured, whilst the country's reconstruction is due to begin, and whilst the humanitarian situation, in particular for the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees returning home, remains very difficult, access to the most isolated populations is of vital importance. Whatever the cost, humanitarian organisations must call on all available means to keep the Afghan mountain roads open this winter.

Press contacts :

Alain Boinet, Director - Sébastien le Clezio, Communication Manager - 01 43 15 13 13

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