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Afghanistan: ICRC aid convoy arrives in Mazar-i-Sharif

23-11-2001 News Release 01/57

Geneva (ICRC) - Today, 23 November, a 59-truck convoy of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) loaded with 1,500 tonnes of food for distribution to 65,000 displaced persons (10,200 families) in and around the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif arrived safely at its destination. The cargo also included six medical kits for hospitals treating the war-wounded in the area.

The convoy left the town of Turkmenabad in Turkmenistan early on Tuesday 20 November bound for the war-torn Afghan city, where tens of thousands of families are in dire need of assistance.

" The population of this area is once again enduring extreme hardship, especially families that had to move from their homes because of the latest events " , said OlivierMartin, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Mazar-i-Sharif. " People still fear lack of security and are desperately trying to find ways of surviving the winter. "

In close cooperation with volunteers of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, the ICRC team in Mazar-i-Sharif is now working to identify the most vulnerable members of the population, assess their needs and organize urgently needed relief distributions.

" We have already registered 5,000 families (35,000 people) who have gathered at two sites. Apart from food rations sufficient for six weeks, we are preparing to distribute basic supplies such as cooking sets, blankets and jerrycans provided by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies " , Martin added. The first distributions are expected to begin tomorrow in Dasht-i-Shor, some 15 km outside Mazar-i-Sharif. Starting on Monday, the team will distribute aid in the town of Sar-e-Pul, a five-hour drive from the city. 

Most of the hospitals in and around Mazar-i-Sharif are also being visited by delegates and receiving ICRC assistance. The newly arrived medical kits will replenish their dwindling stocks.

Another 10-truck convoy transporting non-food items and vehicles to support the ICRC operation throughout the country is now on its way from Mashad in Iran to the western Afghan city of Herat. Thirty-six ICRC delegates are already operational throughout the country and another 22 are expected to arrive in the coming days.