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Afghanistan: ICRC brings aid to population in Bamiyan

03-12-2001 News Release 01/63

Geneva (ICRC) – Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) returned to the central Afghan province of Bamiyan on 2 December, bringing with them emergency relief supplies for the region's population.

Following a survey of needs carried out last week, the ICRC began today, 3 December, to distribute 500 tarpaulins for use as shelter material and 2,500 blankets to some 500 families (some 3,500 people). It is also providing the local hospital with emergency medical kits.

The relief items are intended for displaced people returning to this historic and cultural capital of the Hazara ethnic minority and for its most destitute inhabitants, including some living in makeshift shelters near the destroyed statues of the Buddha. At the same time, medical and food-security assessment teams continue to gather information on the population’s needs. “On our eight-hour journey from Kabul to Bamiyan, we had to cross the 3,000-metre-high Shyber pass,” said Pascal Duport, deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Kabul. “We hope to have good weather conditions for another month, which would allow us to bring in additional supplies. Once the road from Kabul is covered with snow, truck movements will be extremely difficult,” he added.

The operation in Bamiyan is part of the ICRC’s current efforts to reach the people in remote rural areas of Afghanistan it had already been assisting before mid-September. Aid to the province, which was interrupted by the recent fighting, is now being resumed and will continue as long as weather conditions permit.

Another ICRC team recently reached Chaghcharan, the capital of Ghor province, some 300 kilometres from Herat. Delegates are assessing the needs of the people remaining in the province despite fighting and three years of drought. Aid will be sent from Herat once the delegates have registered those eligible to receive it.