MSF teams arrive in Mazar and Taloqan

Afghanistan - This evening at 19.00 local time (14.00 GMT), a team of three international staff from the medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reached Mazar-I-Sharif in northern Afghanistan after crossing the border with Turkmenistan. They have made contact with the Afghan national staff in the town , who had carried on the medical work after expatriates were evacuated shortly after September 11th. The team will now be evaluating the needs of the local population in terms of medical assistance, concentrating in particular on the hospitals and health centres in Mazar, and on displaced people's camps around the city. MSF is preparing to send more international medical staff in the near future - especially surgeons - if they are found to be necessary. Two separate international teams have also arrived in the town of Taloqan in northern Afghanistan, which had been held by the Taliban. They report that there are wounded still arriving at the local hospital from the fighting in nearby Kundoz province. But they also say that MSF's national staff had been able to sustain much of the medical work in the area since Sept 11. Yesterday, another MSF team arrived and started work in Kabul. The organisation also hopes soon to be able to re-establish its international presence in the Western city of Herat. All of these initiatives have been undertaken independently of the warring parties in Afghanistan. The teams returned freely to continue the medical work with the people most in need in the country.