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Afghanistan: ICRC support for Bamiyan returnees

21-01-2002 News Release 02/03

Since 24 December 2001, ICRC relief teams have been distributing aid to people returning to their homes in the Bamiyan region. The beneficiaries had fled fighting in their villages over the previous two years to seek refuge higher up in the remote valleys of Bamiyan province. To date, over 7,400 families in the area have received ICRC food and other supplies. The population of central Bamiyan is now estimated at 12,000 families and is increasing with each new group that returns.

In the village of Shahidan, relief distributions had to be interrupted on 31 December 2001 when an anti-tank mine was discovered in the ruts of the dirt road which had been used for several weeks to ferry supplies from Bamiyan town. Since humanitarian aid is urgently needed by the inhabitants of this remote mountain village located at over 3,000 m altitude, the ICRC decided, with the agreement of the village authorities, to distribute the supplies to the Shahidan people in Bamiyan town. They are given two extra blankets per family to compensate for the cost of transportation by donkey over the 30 km of mountain tracks.

In the meantime, a United Nations mine-clearance team has been called in from Kabul and is at work on the main road to Shahidan. Clearance activities are expected to last until the end of January 2002.