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Tajikistan: ICRC appeals for 9 million Swiss francs

05-07-1996 News Release 96/22

Geneva (ICRC) - On 5 July the ICRC launched an appeal for more than 9 million Swiss francs to cover the growing needs of the victims of the conflict in Tajikistan. This sum reflects the magnitude of the tragedy affecting tens of thousands of people caught up in the hostilities between government troops and opposition forces, which resumed with growing intensity in early 1996.

Opposition forces have now succeeded in extending their control over the area which separates the semi-autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan from the rest of the country (Tavildara, the Mionadu valley and part of the Garm valley), thereby cutting off many villages from the outside. As a result, close to 15,000 destitute people seeking food and safety have fled this region since the beginning of the year. Some 5,000 additional people have left the Mionadu valley across the mountains in the past few weeks. According to the displaced people, the situation in the Mionadu valley, which used to have a population of some 25,000 inhabitants, is rapidly deteriorating.

As a first step, the ICRC intends to bring in relief supplies for about 40,000 people. This will enable it to pursue its assistance programme for newly displaced people and to help, as soon as possible, those who are trapped in areas to which ICRC delegates have not yet had access despite repeated representations to the Tajik authorities. In anticipation of any worsening of the situation, enough emergency rations to feed 50,000 more people for two months will be stocked in Dushanbe. Additional surgical supplies and medicines will also be distributed to meet the growing health needs brought on by a collapsing economy and four years of conflict which have severely w eakened the country's medical facilities. Since the fighting resumed, claiming hundreds of casualties, the ICRC has distributed in two months the amount of medical supplies it had expected to last for the entire year.

Although the Tajik government continues to deny the ICRC access, in accordance with the organization's customary procedures, to persons held in connection with the conflict, it has agreed to allow relief supplies to be delivered to the country's prisons following alarming allegations of malnutrition. Pending the final results of an ICRC survey, flour and family parcels have already been distributed to 2,000 of the estimated more than 5,000 prisoners. Medical assistance has also been provided to the main prison hospital.