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NRC says hundreds fleeing conflict in Kunduz

NRC says hundreds fleeing conflict in Kunduz

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May 07, 2017 - 19:02

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) country director in Afghanistaninfo-icon, Kate O’Rourke, on Sunday said “hundreds of Afghan families are desperately fleeing armed conflict in (northern) Kunduz province.”

“Many are accommodated with extended families elsewhere, but some have had to sleep in the open,” Kate O’Rourke was quoted as saying in a report by the NRC, a leading partner of the Emergency Response Mechanism (ERM) in Afghanistan.

A civilian from Aq-Tapa, Rahman Gerdi (29), told NRC emergency response staff in Kunduz, that “Talibaninfo-icon fighters were shooting from one side of our house and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSFinfo-icon) from the other side.”

As a rocket landed in his home garden, his wife threatened she would leave alone with their two daughters if he refused to flee. “We fled. We left everything behind. I’m afraid it will be looted.”

The Taliban, who captured a strategic Kunduz district, Qala-i-Zal yesterday, are launching attacks on ANSF checkpoints along the main road to Khanabad district and civilians are fleeing from both locations.

The intensity of armed conflict in northern Afghanistan has increased over the past week, following the announcement of the Taliban’s spring offensive on April 28.

Abdul Karim (31) from Qala-i-Zal, fled with his family to Kunduz City, where he is staying in a compound with four other families.

 “Around 2:30 am Taliban fighters came to our houses and asked us to evacuate. They told us not to make any sound. We were all afraid,” he told NRC staff in Kunduz City on Saturday.

Preliminary reports from families who fled, local authorities, and aid groups indicated that thousands of people had been displaced.

 “Around 180 families from my neighbourhood in Qala-i-Zal have been displaced into Kunduz City. But those with no money, like widows, are in Qala-i-Zal desert, as they couldn’t make it as far as the city. They are now living in the open,” said Abdul Karim.

A rapid humanitarian assessment is currently being undertaken in Kunduz, to identify immediate needs of families displaced by the recent fighting.

The NRC said it was ready to provide emergency shelter, water, food, sanitation and hygiene articles and other essential supplies. “All armed actors must respect International Humanitarian Law,” said O’Rourke.

He asked the warring sides to avoid civilian casualties and allow fleeing civilians safe passage. We request security assurances from all parties to the conflict for safe humanitarian access to respond to those in need.”

pr/ma

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