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Afghanistan: Planned operations in the North

28-05-1997 News Release 97/20

The deterioration in the military situation in Mazar-i-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, over the past 48 hours has forced the ICRC temporarily to suspend its operations in the region, as hazardous security conditions are preventing its delegates from continuing their work in the field.

The departure of a convoy scheduled to provide 200 tonnes of food aid for displaced families in Pul-i-Khumri has been postponed, as has been the distribution of 21,000 blankets and other relief items for flood victims in Sar-i-Pul and the delivery of food supplies for 250 families (1,500 people) in Maimana.

A dozen delegates are currently on the spot in Mazar-i-Sharif, and ICRC operations will resume as soon as security conditions permit. Priority will be given to assessing the town's requirements in terms of food, assistance to the destitute, care for the wounded and support for hospitals, and to visiting persons arrested in connection with the conflict.

The delegates plan to go to Shibarghan, 150 km west of Mazar-i-Sharif, to assess the local hospital's needs. They will also cover the stretch of road leading to Andkhui, north-west of Shibarghan, in the province of Fayab, to remove the bodies of people killed in the recent fighting. All the deceased will be buried according to Islamic rites. Prior to burial, photographs will be taken of mortal remains that are impossible to identify. The photos will be handed over to the ICRC tracing agency and used to try and help families who have filed tracing requests for missing relatives.

A few days before fighting between various factions broke out in Mazar-i-Sharif, the ICRC had done the rounds of several local hospitals to assess their requirements. Medical supplies were delivered to the town's civilian hospital, the military hospital and the Chemical Factory Hospital.