Ongoing fighting between the extremist Taliban militia and its northern opposition has forced more than 150,000 people to flee their homes. According to a United Nations statement issued yesterday, the Taliban has been setting villages on fire in an attempt to force civilians out. In a period of less than 36 hours on August 13 and 14, an estimated 10,000 people were forced from their homes into the Afghan capital of Kabul. Many thousands more were expected this weekend.
Medical aid agency Medecins du Monde (MDM - Doctors of the World) announced Friday that about 20,000 Afghan women and children seeking refuge in the northern Panshir valley will soon die unless they receive necessary medical attention and supplies. Dr. Guy Causse of the MDM said, "Without aid, we are heading for a famine situation within two weeks." Causse also cautioned that the conditions in the valley are ripe for an epidemic, and that many of the children are already suffering from diarrhea and dehydration.
MDM plans to send 15,000 tons of aid including medical equipment, nutrient rich foods and re-hydration kits. The supplies must be flown into Tajikistan and then transported over the border to Afghanistan using helicopters and ground transportation. The French government has also volunteered 35 tons of aid.