We are providing education and psychological support to children in camps and processing centres for returnee refugees.
Last year saw unprecedented levels of children being displaced in Afghanistan. This was largely due to Pakistan intensifying its efforts to expel Afghan refugees within its borders, but increased violence and insecurity within Afghanistan also played a significant part. Indeed it is violence rather than refugee expulsion which has displaced the most people (126,500) so far this year.
This mass upheaval is set to continue; up to 1.5 million people are predicted to have been forced to return by the end of the year. For children, their arrival does not herald a stable new life. It is very much a case of frying pan to fire as most are merely moving from one tented camp to another – this time to informal settlements in Nangarhar province, but with 17% also settling in Kabul province.
Our concern is that no education and psychological support is being provided to children within Kabul’s informal settlements. These are children who have been through and still find themselves in an extremely traumatic situation, their ‘unsettlement’ should not preclude them receiving any education.
We are setting up 25 temporary Community Based Education (CBE) classrooms for five refugee settlements. The classrooms will be run from local community leaders’ homes following the same model as the education centres (CBECs) we already run in Kabul. Students will be provided with all the learning materials they need and staff will be recruited by re-training teachers who are returnee refugees themselves, equipping them to teach our specialist CBE curriculum.
We expect this project to reach 1,500 children over the next nine months, by which time we aim to have found them spaces within local Kabul primary schools.
We have partnered up with UNICEF to set up Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) within centres in which returnee refugee families are received. Many returnee children have suffered trauma, and we recognise are unfortunately likely be exposed to future crises or conflict. We are implementing a curriculum in the CFS which combines education, psychosocial support and play therapy. Our goal is to equip these vulnerable children with positive coping mechanisms, to help them draw on and develop their resilience.