Pul-i-Sukhta residents complaining about presence of addicts
In December last year, there were about 200 addicts under a bridge in the area. Occasionally residents say they find the body of a youth who had overdosed.
“The addicts have been here for a year and are living under the bridge. No one wants to pass this way because they are afraid the addicts will attack and rob them,” said Hamidullah, a resident of the area.
A week earlier, he said one person had been stabbed on his way home.
Abdul Samad, another resident, said he was afraid the addicts would influence their own children to start taking drugs.
Abdul Matin, an 11th grade student at Saeed Ismail Balkhi High School, said his cousin was beaten up one night as he walked home in Pul-i-Sukhta and all his money stolen.
“People cannot leave their front doors unlocked even during the day … a few days ago, the addicts stole a pot of meat porridge from a house.”
The addicts used to live in Elm Wa Farhang house in Deh Mazang, but because of construction in that area, they were forced to find another place to congregate. Pul-i-Sukhta is about 3 kilometres from Deh Mazang.
Residents have asked officials to round up the drug addicts and put them in rehabilitation centres.
However, a number of addicts told Pajhwok Afghan News that they do not cause any trouble to the people in the area.
Ali Reza, 23, said it was not the drug users who were causing trouble, but the residents who often beat up the addicts.
He pointed to his torn clothes: “Look! People have beaten me and torn my clothes.”
Asked why he was not seeking treatment for his addiction he said he was in a centre for three months but could not give up drugs. “So I signed out of there. I cannot leave drugs.”
He said his family lives in Iran and that he had come back to Afghanistan two years ago. He makes 200 afghanis ($4.5) a day collecting Pepsi cans.
Another addict, wearing dirty, torn clothes said: “Leave us man, why you are asking us such questions? We have not troubled any one.”
He refused to give his name and said there had been no attempt to help any of them sign up for treatment.
Officials at the Ministry of Public Health say they cannot force addicts to join a treatment programme; but counternarcotics police say they have been rounding them up and admitting them to hospital for the past year.
Dr. Abdullah Fahim, a spokesman of the Ministry of Public Health, said officials had visited Pul-i-Sukhta and urged the addicts to admit themselves to rehabilitation centres, but only 20 agreed.
Lt. Gen. Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, deputy of the counternarcotics department at the Ministry of Interior, said the department had rounded up about 1,000 drug addicts from different areas of Kabul since March 22, 2010.
They were sent to the Nejat Centre and Jangalak rehabilitation centres, and a treatment centre run by the Ministry of Interior.
However, officials at Nejat and Jangalak say those seeking treatment had come of their own free will and were not forced to attend.
Ahmadi said the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled should provide work opportunities for recovered addicts to prevent them returning to drugs.
Dr. Fareed Rayid, a spokesperson for the ministry, agreed that job opportunities were important, but said the ministry did not have the resources to provide each recovered addict with a job.
There are about 1.5 million drug addicts in Afghanistan and 45 government and non-government rehabilitation centres which have treated about 8,000 addicts, according to officials.
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