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Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.

Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.

Mariam Ghani
Zohra Saed
Massoud Hosseini
Nassima Mustafa
Bibigol Ghani
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Soraia Ghani

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Canadian peacekeepers and the (mostly toy-)gun-toting kids of Kabul: pen for gun exchange establishe
Afghan kids with realistic replica guns a serious concern for Canadian Forces The Canadian Press 12/01/2003 KABUL - Master Cpl. Ronnie Cheverie knew what hit him the moment he was shot in the face last week while on a routine patrol through the streets of Kabul. "I knew what it was," said the Canadian Forces soldier on Sunday, recalling the stinging sensation he felt just below the eye on his left cheek as he was struck by a pellet. "When (the shooter) hit the first soldier, who was behind me, I saw what kind of gun he had and he hit me in the face with it," said Cheverie. The other soldier was struck in the leg. Neither was seriously hurt. The person brandishing the pistol was an Afghan boy, no older than nine. Children with "realistic" replica handguns can be seen almost everywhere in Kabul, and they have become a serious safety concern for Canadian soldiers as they patrol the streets of the Afghan capital. From a distance, it's impossible to tell the toy from the real thing. "The guns are very realistic," said Maj. Jamie Morse, the Deputy Commanding Officer at Camp Julien, the largest Canadian Forces base in Afghanistan. "It's a real concern when this happens, because when you're driving by you only have a second and you see a gun come up. Somebody may take that as a hostile threat." "Good thing our guys are very well trained," added Morse. "They keep an eye out for this sort of thing. The last thing we want to do is shoot a kid by mistake." In fact, some children have been spotted carrying the real thing, even though many times the guns are merely discarded broken ones. "We've seen other guns out there. AK-47s, stuff like that," said Cheverie. "Kids have access to anything out there." Morse says dealing with gun-toting children has become a real dilemma for the soldiers. "We don't want our people to mistake them for real guns, but (the soldiers) can't let their guard down in case somebody does point a real gun at them," said Morse. "Obviously, it's a dangerous situation for the kids." To deal with the problem, the Canadians are speaking to the children - and their parents when possible - to convince them of the dangers of aiming guns at soldiers, even toy ones. "Patrols usually stop and try to apprehend the kid, usually take away the pellet gun, and give them a lecture," said Morse. Some soldiers have taken an innovative approach to the issue, making simple trades with the children. A pen for a gun. "One of the patrols a couple days ago, they were shot at with a pellet gun," said Morse. "They stopped, they took the gun away from the kid and gave him a pen for the gun." "All of a sudden a bunch of other kids showed up with pellet guns." In all, the soldiers collected almost 40 guns from that one incident, and gave away as many pens. "We're going to maybe push that (pens for guns) initiative a little farther," said Morse. The military is also in the process of launching a public information campaign about the toys, using local newspapers and radio commercials to educate parents about the dangers of their children pointing guns at soldiers. A similar program was devised by Canadian peacekeepers in Bosnia, who also encountered children with replica guns. They used comic books to teach kids about the dangers associated with toy pistols. Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan have become more mindful of any perceived threats recently, in the days leading up to the country's constitutional loya jirga, or "grand council." Delegate registration for the loya jirga begins Monday amid heightened security. The process of registering voters for general elections scheduled to take place in June, 2004 will begin at the same time, said Manoel de Almeida-e-Silva, the chief spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA. "Registration will start at the sites where 19,000 district representatives of the constitutional loya jirga will be coming to elect delegates," he told a news conference Sunday in Kabul. "We are using the opportunity to begin the registration of voters for the elections that will take place next year."
Posted By: mariam   December 16th 2003, 2003 7:18 PM

Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.

www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.