Tens of Thousands of Civilians Displaced in Northern Afghanistan

New York/Brussels, 8 September 2000 — The international medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is calling on the international community to act immediately in the province of Takhar, northern Afghanistan, where fighting has displaced thousands of people. According to Doctors Without Borders team members working in the area, at least 60,000 people have fled their homes after the Taleban launched a new offensive against General Masood of the Northern Alliance at the end of July.

On September 5, 2000, the Taleban captured Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province. Since then, 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. However, many people have no choice but to live outside with no access to food or shelter.

"Many families had to leave so quickly that they could not take any of their personal belongings. There is not enough food or shelter. With winter coming soon, there is an urgent need for more help," said Anna Poloni, Doctors Without Borders Field Coordinator for Takhar, from Keshem, a small village 30 kilometers from Taloqan.

Doctors Without Borders, one of the few humanitarian organizations active in the region, has set up two mobile medical clinics in Keshem and Dashti Qala where the largest influxes of displaced are gathering. The Doctors Without Borders team has distributed plastic sheeting, blankets, and soap. Food and shelter remain in urgent demand.

Doctors Without Borders and the local authorities are discussing the possibility of setting up camps for the displaced and is hoping other organizations will bring food.

Doctors Without Borders calls upon the international community to act now to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.