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Afghanistan: high number of casualties

19-10-1995 News Release 42

The recent fighting in the southern suburbs of Kabul has taken a heavy toll among both government and Taliban forces. Since the Taliban attack began on Tuesday, 10 October, more than 600 people have been treated in the first-aid posts set up to the south of Kabul and in hospitals inside the Afghan capital. " The number of casualties is certainly even higher since not all wounded people have been able to reach medical facilities " , said Peter Iseli, an ICRC delegate in Kabul. Never before in the 16 years of conflict in Afghanistan has the ICRC hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, to which front-line casualties have been transferred, had to deal with such a large number of inpatients (213) at the same time. " So far the civilian population of Kabul has been largely spared; only one rocket has hit the centre of the capital " , reported Iseli. The ICRC delegation has managed in recent days to furnish all medical facilities on both sides with supplies sufficient to last several weeks. Additional supplies are being flown into the capital every day on board an ICRC aircraft. One major problem nevertheless remains: a serious shortage of blood for transfusion.

Several hundred people have in the meantime fled southern Kabul and taken refuge with family and friends in the centre of the city. If the situation remains tense, however, public buildings will have to be opened to accommodate the displaced. The Afghan Red Crescent Society has already drawn up a plan to assist these people, with the help of the ICRC. This is particularly necessary in view of the approaching winter. Red Cross warehouses are well stocked for the time being but a way must very soon be found to bring in further supplies by road; a commercial convoy with 200 tonnes of wheat flour purchased by the ICRC for Kabul has been brought to a standstill by the fighting.