Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 341

Situation Report
Originally published
Internally Displaced Persons
Because of fighting in 1999, the United Nations is carrying out an assistance programme for approximately 300,000 dis-placed Afghans in Kabul, Panjshir, Hazarajat, Darra Souf (Samangan Prov-ince), Kunduz/Baghlan/Pulikhumri, and Khoja Ghar (Takhar). The total amount of assistance planned up to May 2000 totals US$ 12.5 million.

Donors of supplies include UN agencies and NGOs including WFP, UNI-CEF, UNHCR, UNOCHA, and Oxfam. Donors that have pledged or contributed funds include ECHO, USAID, NOVIB, NPO, NCA, SDC, and the governments of Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

In addition to UN agencies, several NGOs are involved in the assistance effort. They include ACTED, FOCUS, CARE, Save the Children (US), Oxfam, Aide Medicale Internationale, Action contre le Faim, CCA, Shuhada, GAA, MEDAIR, and Solidarites.

In Kunduz and Takhar, fighting in October and November caused further dis-placement of civilians. At present most of the displaced are returning to their villages. The ICRC, WFP, and two NGOs are cur-rently involved in supporting IDPs in the areas through the distribution of food and non-food items. One NGO is also planning to assist the local population in repairing damaged shelters.

In Darra Souf district, Samangan province, where 5,000 to 7,000 families have been displaced in the course of the year, the United Nations has co-ordinated a one-off response carried out by an NGO to distribute essential non-food and food items to 1,000 most vulnerable families.

In the Bamyan valley, the first round of food distribution has been completed, reaching all IDPs who have returned to the valley. Large scale cash for work activities continue to provide employment and assist rehabilitation. IDPs who have been unable to return and remained in the neighbouring districts, such as Panjao and Yakaolang, are a cause for concern. ECHO supported proj-ects in the area have reached some of them, but reports from an NGO active in the area indicate that some may be ill prepared for the winter.

In the Panjshir valley, the total number of IDPs is around 65,000; however, there are indications that this number may be reducing significantly. The United Nations and the NGOs estimate that about 50,000 people are in need of food and 30,000 are in need of shelter. Due to cold weather and recent bombing in Bazarakh, a few hundred IDP families have recently left the area. Work to rehabilitate and winterise public buildings in the Panjshir is almost completed: 1,200 houses have been re-paired and 330 new shelters have been built by the NGO ACTED. Non-food items (blankets, shelter material, jerry cans, sweaters) have been distributed to the most vulnerable IDPs. In addition, 2,500 metric tons (MT) of wheat have been distributed to 8,500 families.

Access to the Valley is still a major cause of concern as only one of the two passes into the valley is sporadically open during the winter months. Reaching the Valley from Faizabad through this pass re-quires a ten-day drive in good weather con-ditions, which are quite rare at this time.

To obtain access across the front lines from Kabul, a joint commission was established under UN auspices, comprised of representatives from the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.

The first UN crosslines convoy suc-cessfully made the trip from Kabul on 6 December. The eight-truck convoy carried 90 MT of wheat flour, 1,000 coats, and 10,000 sweaters. It is planned to send in four more convoys as soon as possible, which will deliver a total of 750 tons of wheat and non-food items.

In Kabul some 16,000 IDPs, of which 10,000 are children, from the Sho-mali are housed in the ex-Soviet com-pound. A joint one-off distribution of non-food items (cooking utensils, blankets, plastic sheeting) has been conducted by the UN and NGOs. CSB (Corn and Soya Blend) distribution by WFP and bread dis-tribution by the local authorities is ongoing. The NGO CARE has almost completed winterisation and water and sanitation works. Heating in the compound is being provided by Save the Children Fund/US. The overall situation in the compound is significantly improved since August, when the IDPs first occupied it.

A cause of serious concern is now represented by the IDPs who have found refuge in the homes of their relatives, rented rooms or squatted in empty homes in the city. While it is difficult to accurately quantify the number of recent IDPs in the city, over 20,000 families have been regis-tered entering Kabul between August and October. A number of initiatives are un-derway aimed at obtaining more detailed information on the vulnerability of these IDPs and their host families. Cash for work and food for work programs are being fi-nalised to assist this population.



WHO in collaboration with MoPH, UNI-CEF, UN agencies, and health NGOs suc-cessfully vaccinated children against polio in the second round of National Immunisa-tion Days (NIDs) in all except five districts of Afghanistan. In some districts, coverage reached 100%. In Baghlan and Kunduz provinces, even districts near the frontline were reached in the campaign. NIDs activities were implemented in all districts in south-ern and southeastern Afghanistan and in all northern provinces including Balkhab dis-trict of Saripul province and Darra Souf. In the northeast, the campaign in Baharak, Jurm, and Wardoj has been postponed for security reasons. All children four years old and under received the vaccine whether they have been immunised previously or not and even if they were sick.

Due to late global provision of the vaccine, WHO supported a charter flight to bring the medicine for distribution in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.


With the Ministry of Public Health, WHO has successfully completed a two-month course for female doctors and health work-ers in Herat. The course started on 2 October 1999 and was completed on 23 Novem-ber 1999. The 23 graduates of the course were female medical doctors, nurses, and midwives from seven provinces in the northern and western regions of Afghani-stan. The course focused on safe mother-hood practices, child health, prevention of infectious diseases, primary health care, and preventive medicine. The course graduates will help in improving health care at the district level in the country.

In eastern Afghanistan, WHO con-ducted two training courses on malaria, one on control and management, and the other on diagnosis. WHO also conducted a four-day training course for eight female health workers in Laghman province on health information systems and training for tradi-tional birth attendants (TBAs) in Paktika and Ghazni provinces. Participants re-ceived TBA kits.

In the north, WHO conducted a two-week TB training course for doctors, nurses, and lab-technicians in Mazar-i-Sharif on the management and treatment of TB according to DOTS (Direct Observance of Short Course Treatment Strategy). After the course, WHO will establish new TB centres in Samangan and Saripul provinces.

Medical supplies

In the north, WHO distributed TB drugs to Faizabad Public Health Hospital, medical supplies to Pulikhumri Public Health Hos-pital, Faizabad TB centre, Takhar Provin-cial Hospital and Teshkan Clinic, and medical books and guidelines to Pulik-humri, Nassaji, and Mine hospitals. In Jowzjan, Faryab, and Mazar, WHO provided medical supplies and guidelines for surveillance and control of ARI, Diarrhoea diseases, EPI diseases, and TB.

In eastern Afghanistan, WHO dis-tributed medical supplies to six clinics and two hospitals. In the south, WHO distrib-uted medical supplies to Urozgan Provin-cial Hospital and Khas Urozgan district hospital, and TB supplies to TB patients among returned refugees.


UNICEF is organising the monitoring of the home based schools in Herat city and a sample monitoring form has been devel-oped.


Forty wells, with handpumps, were com-pleted in Momandara district. They will benefit some 14,000 persons. The commu-nity shuras (councils) have decided to con-struct another ten wells, for which UNIICEF has already provided handpumps. Thirty-three latrines were completed in this district by community masons under RRD's supervision and technical and financial as-sistance from UNICEF.

In Mehterlam district, two hand-pumps were installed, which means that the target of 20 in 1999 has been reached. The handpumps will benefit some 8,000 people of the area.

Social mobilisation continues. RRD social mobilisers arranged a meeting of religious and community elders in Moman-dara district to discuss importance of safe drinking water and sanitation and the role of women in development. RRD female social mobilisers visited 100 houses in Me-hterlam district and surrounding villages with health and hygiene messages.



FAO (livestock) distributed livestock vac-cines in Kandahar, Helmand, and Mazar. Animal health and production routine ac-tivities in 255 Veterinary Field Units are going on smoothly.


FAO continues its wheat improvement pro-gramme in all areas. In southern Afghanistan, three farmer field demonstration plots were planted in Ghazni Province and six were planted in Zabul.


Voluntary Return

During the week some 121 families, com-prising 686 individuals, received UNHCR assistance and returned voluntarily from Iran to Afghanistan through the border at Milak (Nimroz). At the same time 20 families (102 persons) voluntarily repatriated from Pakistan, receiving the standard repa-triation grant in Kandahar.

Forcible return from Iran

During the week a total of 1,682 Afghans were forcibly returned from Iran through the border at Naloki (Nimroz), comprising 64 families (382 persons) and 1,300 Af-ghans without family members. Through the border at Islam-Qala, in the Western region, an additional 913 Afghans without family members were deported.

Assistance to returning refugees

The rehabilitation of 1,130 shelters for returnee families in Herat province is ongoing and will be completed prior to the onset of winter as will be projects to provide safe drinking water to returnees and returnee impacted communities in 33 villages in Gulran and Ghorian districts of Herat province.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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