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Afghanistan: providing relief far and wide

12-02-1997 News Release 97/06

Displaced, dispersed and cut off, the victims of the Afghan conflict seem more destitute than ever as winter advances. Recent fighting in Charikar and Jabal-Saraj to the north of Kabul has forced thousands of civilians to take to the snow-covered roads. Very often, they have little access to food or medical care. On 3 and 4 February, for the second time in six months, the ICRC had to fly emergency supplies to the few medical facilities that exist in the Panjshir valley. At the same time, it arranged for a convoy of donkeys to carry food, clothing and blankets to a group of 1,500 people trapped by snow on the north-western slopes of the Hindu Kush mountains. Like many other displaced civilians, the group had fled the front line at Salang, 80  kilometres north of Kabul, and was heading for the town of Pul-i-Khumri in Baghlan province.

From Pul-i-Khumri, the ICRC is currently distributing food to some 6,000 people forced from their homes by the latest clashes between Taliban government forces and units of the opposition coalition. But as delegates conduct surveys in Baghlan province, other needs come to light. North of Salang, a group of 2,400 displaced civilians, half of whom are amputees, has been provided with food and firewood; in Dare Kayan, another group of 1,500 people, many of them children, is also receiving temporary assistance.

The ICRC undertakes individual operations such as these in addition to its regular distributions of food to the needy in Kabul (210,000 people) and to displaced civilians around the towns of Bamyan (4,600) and Ghazni (1,800) to the west and south-west of the capital, respectively. Moreover, the ICRC recently distributed one tonne of dates during Ramadan to 2,0 00 detainees to whom it has access throughout Afghanistan.