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"Action by Churches Together" mission:  Afganistan (2002)

Emergency aid to refugees in Afghanistan

A project for emergency assistance to Afghan refugees who found asylum on the islands of Pyanj - the boarder river between Afghanistan and Tajikistan - was carried out from April 22 to May 25, 2002. This project was prepared by the Russia Round Table and implemented with the financial support of Action by Churches Together, Geneva.

Initially it was planned to distribute aid to refugees in places of their concentration at settlements and self-made huts on the Pyanj River islands, where nearly 20.000 had accumulated by spring 2002. However, by mid-April 2002, most of the refugees began to return to their homes in the Imam-Sakhib Region in Afghanistan with the support of UN IOM as well as the Tajikistan and Russian authorities, and only 100 people remained on the islands. In this connection, the project plan was changed at the last moment to transfer the distribution of aid to Imam-Sakhib in Afghanistan 20 km away from the Tajikistan border. Therefore, it was possible now not only to help the Afghan refugees who needed aid, but also support their desire to come back home and start a new stage in their life.

The aid articles were delivered from the Tajikistan territory with the support of the Tajikistan Deanery of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russian frontier-guard and the Russian Emercom.

Under the project, nearly 4.000 people or 500 families, the poorest among the refugees, received foodstuffs, hygienic accessories, blankets and clothes. Every family received a package consisting of the following foodstuffs and articles:

  • Flour - 50 kg.
  • Sugar - 25 kg.
  • Rice - 25 kg.
  • Sunflower-seed oil - 4 l.
  • Tea - 5 p.
  • Soup - 10 p.
  • Powdered detergent - 3 p.
  • Blanket - 1 u.
  • Chapan (traditional overcoat) - 1 u.

The lists of beneficiaries and the distribution plan were prepared by secular and religious authorities of Imam-Sakhib and negotiated with the Russian and Tajikistan Emergency Ministries.

The aid was distributed from May 23-25, with the participation of Rev. Sergiy Klimenko, dean of the parishes in the ROC Central Asia diocese in Tajikistan, and the local Muslim and city authorities.

The action was met with the most favourable response of the Tajik and Afghan authorities and the Russian representatives in the region and was widely covered by the Tajik and Russian mass media.

The implementation of this project of aid to refugees in Afghanistan has once again highlighted vividly the ability of the ROC to carry out humanitarian programs in various parts of the world, using the experience and professionalism it has gained in rendering urgent humanitarian aid in emergency situations as well as its inter-church contacts.

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