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Pakistani families take shelter in a school
Jamal Ghari government girls’ high school is currently home to 19 families. They were forced to flee the fighting between the Pakistani army and anti-government militants in Swat.
“We were forced by the militants to leave Swat. Our village was bombed regularly and shells were exploding close to our home. We came here seeking shelter”, explained Aftar Zain, a medical student.
Aftar is thankful for the help he and the others staying in the school have received, but he described the conditions in which they are living as miserable. “There are no showers or baths, and there are not enough toilets in the school. It is also extremely hot and we only have electricity for six to seven hours each day”.
Ten year-old Uma has been living in the school for a month now. At night, she sleeps with almost twenty others on the floor of a classroom. She says it is hard to live like this and that she would be happy to return to her home in Swat as soon as it is safe.
Alia, a widow and mother of two young boys, is also staying at the school. She was amongst the last to leave her village, as her elderly mother is unable to walk. She also didn’t have enough money for transport from the valley when the military operation began.
Alia and her family are finding it difficult to adjust to their new surroundings, but they have nowhere else to go. “I need clothes for my boys and medicine and a wheelchair for my mother”, explained Alia. Alia’s mother is traumatised by her experience; she says she has lost everything and she worries about her relatives who remained in Swat.