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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
06 September 2006

AFGHANISTAN: Thousands displaced by fighting in Kandahar

KABUL, 6 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - Thousands of Afghan families have been displaced by fierce clashes between NATO and Taliban fighters in the southern province of Kandahar, officials said on Wednesday.

Mohammad Nabi Safai, head of Kandahar’s Refugees Department, said reports from tribal leaders in the Panjwaii and Zhari districts indicated more than 2,500 families had been displaced by the fighting.

“People are still feeing their villages and are in a very desperate condition with no shelter and food,” Safai said.

The displaced were living in different parts of the province including Kandahar city and the districts of Arghandab and Daman, officials said. Many were staying with relatives.

Haji Agha Lalai, a tribal elder in Panjwaii, estimated that up to 5,000 families had been displaced from Panjwaii and Zhari.

“The governor of Kandahar has helped some 1,000 displaced families but the remaining thousand families are in a very bad condition and need urgent assistance,” Lalai said.

He also claimed that 13 civilians, including women and children, were killed during a NATO air strike on the villages of Zangawat and Ghalzian villages in Panjwaii on Sunday.

There has been a surge in Taliban-led violence in southern Afghanistan. Operation Medusa, a NATO and Afghan government-led operation targeting the Taliban, was launched at the weekend, killing more than 250 militants in Panjwaii and Zhari, according to reports.

Nader Farhad, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman in Kabul, said it was aware of the recent displacements but did not have precise figures because of the security situation.

Officials said fighting and drought had also forced more than 4,000 families to flee their houses in neighbouring Helmand Province in the past two months.

Insecurity remains a huge problem in war-ravaged Afghanistan. More than 2,000 people, including militants, Afghan security forces, civilians and foreign troops have lost their lives this year.



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