MSF current activities in northern Afghanistan and neighbouring countries

September 19, 2001 - Following the tragic events of September 11 in the USA, and with public attention increasingly focused on Afghanistan, MSF is continuing to work with the Afghan population that is suffering a humanitarian crisis following successive years of drought and the long-standing war. Current MSF operations are continuing with projects either maintained with full teams where possible, or being managed by highly trained national staff members. However long-term assistance at current standards will not be possible without the presence of international volunteers. International aid programs, upon which large parts of the population depend for their survival, have been reduced as a consequence of the evacuation of expatriate staff. MSF fears that, without this assistance and renewed support from abroad, health and nutritional conditions will very rapidly deteriorate throughout the country. MSF has reinforced its presence in the neighbouring countries of Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to provide remote support to the Afghanistan operations. Activities in neighbouring countries shall also be preparing for the possible exodus of refugees from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries. Current Afghanistan operations MSF currently maintains a full presence in Badakhshan, a region in northeastern Afghanistan under the control of the Northern Alliance. In this region, MSF maintains support programs to a referral hospital in Faizabad and clinics in Baharak, Iskashim, Skazar (Badakhshan province) and Khoja-Bahaudin (Takhar province). The programs are conducted by a reduced team of five expat staff, assisted by Afghan staff. Projects where MSF international staff have been withdrawn are still active using the highly trained national staff members. The projects are receiving support though MSF international teams in neighbouring countries. However without free access and the possibility to organise supplies, the future of the assistance projects is poor. In Bala Morghab, the measles vaccination campaign is continuing and the supplementary feeding centre remains. In the Heart Mazhlakh/Shaday camps, the population is facing a rapid food shortage crisis due to halted food distribution. The hospital programme continues with the Infectious Disease Ward still in operation as well as programmes for cholera control.