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18 February 2020

46 avalanches on Arkari Valley in Chitral, 12000 people are stranded

The only road to Arkeri valley in Chitral is blocked since February 5, 2017, as 46 avalanches at different points have blocked the road. About 12000 people are stranded. To reach Chitral town and back, people have to travel 70 Kilometers on foot. Residents in this area are cut-off and raising their voices against the provincial government's inability to clear up the roads. Sher Muhammad, Chairman, Village Council said that people are facing "acute shortage of food, meds and other essential commodities". He said that due to the fact the village has no hospital, it adds up to the hardships of the people. He claimed that local government has reserved only one tractor to clear up debris of 46 avalanches.

Razi Man Shah, Vice Chairman of Village Council said that the residents of Arkeri are stranded in miserable conditions -- the village has no schools, basic life facilities, a hospital or an electricity. They don not even have a basic health unit.

People here are in protest. Women and children were carrying placards and banners while most of the women were holding lanterns and candles to show that they are deprived of basic facilities such as electricity.They said that people are living a life in darkness as it has become impossible even to fetch a kerosene oil from Chitral market for their lanterns. They are demanding that the government should take immediate steps to clear up the roads and help the people in need.

A patient died on his way to the hospital as people were carrying him on a cot in the frigid cold weather. People attempt to cross over the debris to get to Chitral town and carry sacks of edible items on their shoulders. The road is extremely dangerous and rocks and boulders are still rolling down.

Arkeri valley situated near Pak-Afghan border, adjacent to Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. Residents of the area said that medicines and some goods were carried to the region in a military helicopter, only once. They have not heard of anything after that.

People request the Federal Government to deploy excavators, bulldozers and heavy machinery to remove debris of avalanche and snow to open the road for traffic so as to enable the affected people to carry food and essential things in vehicles. A number of people, still ill, are waiting for help.

G.H.Farooqui has contributed to this story from Chital, Pakistan
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