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AFGHANISTAN: Insecurity complicates aid delivery for 1,600 displaced families in Uruzgan

URUZGAN, 22 October 2007 (IRIN) - Protracted armed conflict between Taliban insurgents and Afghan and international forces in Uruzgan province in central Afghanistan has displaced about 1,600 families, according to officials.

Civilians have been displaced in Dihrawud, Khas Uruzgan, Chora, Darawshan, Kejran and Marabad districts, where extended armed conflict, including ground military operations and aerial bombardments, have reportedly affected local residents.

Most displaced families have fled to the centre of Dihrawud district; others have sought refuge in the provincial capital Tarinkot, said Haji Mohammad Amin, head of the provincial department of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS).

“People have also fled to [neighbouring] Ghazni and Kandahar provinces,” Amin told IRIN in Tarinkot.

On 17 October, a suicide attack in Tarinkot killed eight Afghan citizens and injured at least four others, according to a NATO press release.

Some displaced people, meanwhile, say they have abandoned their houses and livelihoods due to intense aerial strikes by international forces.

Security problems

Aid delivery to displaced families in Uruzgan has been hampered by armed hostilities, aid agencies acknowledge.

“The real difficulty we have is that while there is ongoing fighting it makes it extremely difficult for UN agencies to access those areas and to conduct full and accurate assessments about the actual needs,” said Aleem Siddique, a UN spokesman in Kabul.

The UN does not have a direct presence in Uruzgan and several other volatile provinces in south and southeastern Afghanistan.

However, to coordinate and organise an appropriate humanitarian response, a joint UN and Afghan government assessment team is evaluating the situation in affected areas, Siddique added.

A UN official in Kabul gave assurances that it was trying to reach and assist all affected families.

“We call for a secure humanitarian space and utmost respect for civilian protection by all warring parties,” Siddique said.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has repeatedly demanded US and NATO forces cut down on aerial strikes in their counter-insurgency efforts, because they adversely affect civilians.

A spokesman for the UN in the Afghan capital, Kabul, said a combination of “intense aerial strikes” and the Taliban’s violent policies might have contributed to recent mass displacement in different parts of the insurgency-torn Uruzgan province.

Aid delivery

The World Food Programme (WFP) has dispatched about 190 MT of food aid to Uruzgan, which will be distributed to the most vulnerable families, the UN agency said.

The ARCS and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have also pledged food and non-food aid to more than 900 families.

Humanitarian aid should reach all displaced families before winter starts, or a “serious humanitarian crisis” would take place in Uruzgan, Amin warned.

“People urgently need tents, food items, blankets, kitchen utensils and drinking water,” Amin maintained.

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Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



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