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Afghanistan: emergency aid

09-10-1996 News Release 96/40

Since Kabul was captured by Taliban forces on 26 September, the ICRC has had to take action on several fronts to keep up with the swift pace of events in the Afghan conflict. Its first major concern was to ensure that the residents of the Afghan capital would receive vital supplies. Assurances regarding ICRC action were immediately obtained from the Taliban leadership.

On 1, 2, 4 and 7 October, several convoys (79 trucks in all) brought 1,415 tonnes of goods, mostly food but also blankets, coal, medical supplies and orthopaedic equipment, from Peshawar to Kabul. Distributions were rapidly organized in the Afghan capital, where the ICRC is feeding nearly 250,000 destitute people - more than one quarter of the total population. On 9 and 10 October, the distributions will be extended to 1,700 disabled people who are receiving regular food rations from the ICRC. On 10 October as well, a convoy is scheduled to bring foodstuffs to Bamyan, about 100 kilometres north-west of Kabul. This operation should furnish adequate food supplies through to the end of November for 5,000 widows, displaced persons and disabled people in the city.

 Medical supplies sent to Taligan  

Meanwhile, the Taliban have pursued their offensive north of the capital towards the Panjshir valley, where the forces of Ahmed Shah Masood are entrenched. Commander Masood asked the ICRC to meet the medical needs of local people affected by the fighting. On 8 October, therefore, 500 kilos of medical supplies and blankets were flown from Kabul to Taligan, a tow n in Takhar province located between the front line and the Tajik border. The same day, two ICRC vehicles set off from Taligan on the road to Faizabad, in Badakhshan province, in an attempt to reach the northern part of the Panjshir valley.

The ICRC remains concerned about the situation of the people displaced by the recent fighting. A team of delegates has been sent to the area around Taligan, Faizabad and Farkhar to assess the scale of the population movements and the needs of those - mostly ethnic Tajiks - who have fled Kabul and the combat zones. Initial reports put the number of displaced people in and around Taligan at about 5,000. The ICRC is continuing its survey.