Kashmiri orphans' plight heard abroad

SRINAGAR, MAY 7. The condition of an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 orphans and widows in the turmoil-ridden Kashmir valley has become worst and is deteriorating each day. To help the hapless children, the London-based `Save The Children Fund' (SCF) has launched a programme to enable them to improve their economic conditions. Outlining the priorities of SCF, its country programme director, Mr. Martin Kelsey said here on Saturday that this charity organisation was very much concerned over the plight of children in the conflict areas.

``Children regardless of nationality are victims of the conflict and Kashmir is no exception,'' he told a news conference, while releasing the report of the research project titled ``Impact of Conflict Situation on Women and Children in Kashmir''. The project was compiled by the sociology department of the Kashmir University. Mr. Kelsey said the children are exposed to violence. ``Conflict destroys homes and splits communities'' he noted.

Mr. Kelsey said that the research had three specific dimensions viz. an attempt to make understand the prevailing conditions of life of widows and orphans which emerged immediately after death of their fathers and husbands respectively, efforts to know the nature and amount of support provided to the suffering lot and an inquiry to get knowledge about their future needs so that the information can be used for programme on part of NGO's and GOs.

The study is based on detailed field work carried out in all districts in Kashmir province among 300 orphans and 300 widows in the district.