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Peace News log archive: January 2012

Articles from the Peace News log.
For archive articles from the whole site, look here

Maya Evans is in Kabul with Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Photos by Guy Smallman.

Maya Evans at a refugee camp in KabulAs we approached a cluster of ramshackle mud huts on the side of a motorway, our driver (a friend of a friend) warned us to be careful as two foreign journalists had been kidnapped in a refugee camp in Kabul only last year. I asked my friend (a young man and member of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers) if he was comfortable with accompanying me into the camp, he agreed that he was as we both stepped out of the car with Kiwi journalist Jon Stevenson.

The refugee camp near the Crystal Hotel in Karte Parwan Kabul is home to around 300 families each consisting on average of 9 people per family. The camp is separated from a motorway by a large ditch which judging from the strong smell of Sulphur contained raw sewage. We were directed over a rickety bridge to see the last sack of aid being carried away.

A gift of supplies from Peace News readers and Financial Times NUJ chapter had just been delivered (with the help of the camp elders). £2,175 worth of aid consisting of a lorry full of fire wood, 3 tones of sugar, tea and bread making flour which had been bought from a local wholesale market only a few hours before.

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Maya Evans is in Kabul with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

We were lucky enough to receive an invitation to visit a self run community on the edge of Kabul, Chelsitun in Wasalabad; it’s a mixed Tajik and Pashtun community split into 8 sections, consisting of 2,000 households each having its own representative which implements Government initiatives and also manages security in the area.

We were told that the community practices religious and ethnic tolerance and has one of the only Mosques which welcomes joint worship by both Sunni’s and Shia’s with the two Muslim groups sharing funerals and ceremonies. When we arrived in Chelsitun the pathway were unusually set with concrete; an independent initiative by the community (paid for by the people within the area) as a move towards installing proper infrastructure.

Our group was directed into a compound and then into the office of the community elders. It was like stepping back in time into what I imagined pre war Afghanistan to be like; exquisite prayer mats hung on the war, the traditional ornate Afghan rugs; a greenhouse conservatory made of improvised plastic sheeting with the lushest greenery I have seen since leaving the UK.

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Afghanistan Behind the Headlines, Rebel Clowning Workshop, The Life and Times of I F Stone, Making Nonviolent RevolutionPeace News Summer Camp 2012

Thursday 9 February 2012, London: Afghanistan Behind the Headlines. With photojournalist Guy Smallman and ex-soldier Ben Griffin

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Maya Evans gives eye witness report from Kabul where she is on a delegation with the US group Voices for Creative Nonviolence

My first morning in Kabul, I went with Momajan and Roz Mohammed for my first real taste of the outside, a walk to the shops to change my money and top-up an internet dongle. I stepped out into the bright cold streets of Kabul. Initially I was blinded by the brightness of the sun and then choked by the pollution. My immediate thought was that I had stepped into Dickensian London only far worse, piles of rubbish on the street, open sewers running alongside the dirt pavements (also containing rubbish), bric-a-brac junk shops made out of dilapidated shacks, beggars every few yards, the number of people with disabilities is extreme. Air thick with pollution, nothing like anything I’ve experienced during my 18 years of growing up in East London. Pavements are improvised or sometimes non existent; there are no traffic regulations, no zebra crossings or traffic lights. To cross a road you take your life into your own hands zigzagging cars, motorbikes and bicycles. Perhaps the most worrying is the number of people with guns, guards stationed outside buildings, shops, banks all carry a gun slung over their shoulder.

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