Clashes between government forces and the Taliban have displaced at least 12,000 people in Afghanistan's remote northwestern province of Faryab, creating a dire need for water, sanitation and other essentials, the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) warns.
“These IDPs [internally displaced persons] have now sought refuge either with families and friends or have camped in the open in a miserable situation in some secure, but remote, villages with very limited or no access to safe drinking water, sanitation and other basic living facilities,” said Haji Khan Mirza, ARCS director in Faryab Province.
The IDPs were forced to flee around 20 villages in the province’s Qaysar District.
“We are facing too many problems... The weather is also very hot [so] we are afraid of possible disease outbreaks,” Abdul Samad, 39, a representative of the IDPs, told IRIN. He warned that diarrhoeal diseases could spread rapidly unless people were helped to resolve sanitation problems.
ARCS said there were basic healthcare facilities in Faryab, but they would not be able to cope if any major outbreak happened. There are also concerns about access to drinking water.
Diarrhoeal diseases, linked to poor hand-washing and hygiene practices, as well as inadequate sanitation, are a significant cause of death among children under five in Afghanistan. According to the health Ministry, around 50,000 under fives die every year due to pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases.
“We are looking into this problem very seriously,” said Pablo Percelsi, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sub-delegation in the north of Afghanistan.
The ICRC has delivered 200 tons of food and non-food aid to IDPs in Qaysar, but needs more. Many of the IDPs, it added, fled their homes with only the clothes on their backs and say they do not plan to return to their villages any time soon.
According to ICRC, displacement caused by military operations and localized fighting continues to affect communities in many parts of Afghanistan. Between January and April it assisted more than 51,000 IDPs, up 40 percent on the same period last year.
A separate study by UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Bank estimates that about 433,066 persons remain internally displaced in Afghanistan. Of those, 226,682 were displaced by conflict between June 2009 and April 2011.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions