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Editorial: Dizzy eyes

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Tuesday marked the beginning of harsh winter as the first snowfall covered the lowlands and mountains. Temperature has dropped. Winds blowing from the direction of snow covered mountains will penetrate bones of those people who do not enjoy the luxury of a well-constructed home and proper heating system. Their lives are at stake. The harsh winter will show no mercy to children. Hundreds of children will become sick. Children in remote areas, where finding better healthcare facilities are a wild-goose chase, are more prone to diseases. They can even say goodbye to life if the dizzy eyes of the government officials did not turn to these little souls.

This winter will test patience of thousands of internally displaced persons and those who have returned from Pakistan and Iran in 2016. Thousands of Afghans were repatriated from Pakistan last year after the refugees could not bear the harassment and discrimination anymore. The returnees are living in rented houses because many of them have not received residential plots or flats. Moreover, the government has not provided construction material or financial assistance to the returnees so they could build their own houses. The returnees in Nangarhar province are fighting for their survival. Hundreds of them walk for miles to fetch water for drinking and washing.

Lack of health facilities is another major challenge for the returned Afghans. At least the government should provide health insurance facility to them so they could cover their medical treatment expenses without worrying about food. In a system where the law of jungle prevails, it is hard for the returnees and displaced people to put food on the table and at the same time cover medical expenses while fighting winter. Conflict in northern and western provinces have forced thousands of people to leave their native towns and relocate to a relatively safer place. Hundreds of them came to the capital city, Kabul.

Unfortunately, the dizzy eyes could not see miseries of the displaced people in Kabul City, let alone other districts. It is duty of the government to provide food, shelter and healthcare facility to citizens, especially those who are in dire need. The relevant authorities should take measures to save lives of the displaced people and returnees. Blankets, jackets and clothes should be provided to people living in tents. If the displaced people or returnees die of cold, the blood will be on the government’s hands which had received millions of US dollars in foreign aid.