Tens of thousands of civilians displaced in northern Afghanistan

September 8, 2000, Belgium/Afghanistan - MSF is calling on the international community to act immediately in the province of Takhar, northern Afghanistan, where thousands of people have been forced to flee due to the war there. According to MSF team members there, at least 60,000 people have fled their homes after the Taleban started a new offensive against General Masood of the Northern Alliance at the end of July.

Three days ago (September 5), the Taleban captured Taloqan, the capital of the province. Since then even more people have been forced to flee their homes.

Some of the displaced have been supported by the local population, which is demonstrating a strong sense of unity, doing whatever they can to assist the displaced. However many people have no choice but to live outside with no access to food or shelter. Anna Poloni, the MSF Field Coordinator for the region of Takhar, is in Keshem, a small village 30 km from Taloqan. She said "many families had to leave so quickly they could not take any of their personal belongings. There is not enough food or shelter. With winter coming soon, there is a an urgent need for more help."

MSF, one of the few humanitarian organizations active in the region, has set up two mobile clinics. One in Keshim and one in Dashti Qala where the largest influxes of displaced are gathering. The team has distributed plastic sheeting, blankets and soap. However the biggest needs of food and shelter remain.

MSF and the local authorities are discussing the possibility of setting up camps for these people and is hoping other organizations will bring food.

MSF calls upon the international community to act now to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.