The ongoing fighting between the Northern Alliance (NA) and the Taliban movement has left almost 200,000 people displaced in Northern Afghanistan. Approximately 10,000 of them were unable to flee to safe areas and are now stuck on two islands within the Pianj river between the Tajik border and the Afghan front-line.
The Tajik government has stated that their border with Afghanistan is officially open but, in reality, the Russian Border Forces and Tajik government have sealed the border. A joint UN/NGO assessment revealed that the situation of these Afghans is very alarming.
The islands are one to three km from the front-line and the IDPs have come under fire. Since there are many fighters of the NA among the displaced persons, the group is regarded as a target by the Taliban. People are trying to hide in self-constructed 'bunkers'.
The women and children appear heavily traumatised by their war experiences. The crude mortality rate is more than 1 per 10,000 per day which is considered an emergency and one which requires immediate action. Hepatitis, infectious diarrhoea, respiratory infections and meningitis are common and the vaccination rates are low. The food reserves are running out.
The IDPs lack clean water, blankets, clothes, food and basic materials. They have built huts which do not provide protection against snow and rain.
MSF plans to distribute some basic relief goods to the present location if security allows. It will not be possible to provide all basic humanitarian assistance due to high security risks in that area. MSF feels the priority is to advocate to relocate these people to a safer place inside Tajikistan, where adequate provision of aid can be given.