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  • A FOCUS jeep makes its way along the rough, rocky road through the mountain pass above the Kokcha Valley, in northeastern Afghanistan.
    David Nygaard
New humanitarian crisis looms in Northeastern Afghanistan: 100,000 people displaced in Panjshir Valley

Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 20 August 1999 — An urgent appeal has been launched to assist up to 100,000 people displaced in the Panjshir Valley of Northeastern Afghanistan following fighting in the Shamali Plain north of Kabul just over a week ago. Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) and ACTED, two relief agencies who have begun food distribution in the area, made the urgent appeal yesterday following an assessment mission that revealed a rapidly deteriorating situation.

An endless stream of people, including many children and elderly persons, are flooding into the valley where ACTED, through a base in Baharak, has begun the distribution of bread to the weakest. Three humanitarian convoys comprising 200 metric tons of food and non-food relief items are on their way to Panjshir and should arrived shortly in the valley.

"Especially alarming is the situation in the southern part of the valley where dangerous overcrowding of riverbanks risks creating an acute sanitation problem to compound the shortage of food, shelter and medicines" according to Aly Mawji, FOCUS' Programme Coordinator who visited the area earlier in the week. "The situation is difficult here, in the valley, and we are eagerly waiting the arrival of the next assistance convoys" according to Hugues Temple-Boyer, ACTED's Programme Officer who is already distributing the first aid material that has arrived on the site.

The FOCUS/ACTED Appeal warns of a situation that could worsen very quickly with the potential influx of IDPs into Afghanistan's Badakhshan province.

The Appeal details the immediate food need to cover a two-week period as 945 metric tons of wheatflour and 65 metric tons of cooking oil (estimated to grow to 1595 metric tons and 210 metric tons respectively with the flow into Afghan Badakhshan) in addition to other essentials. Estimates of non-food material include 100,000 blankets, 10,000 tents and 75,000 mattresses.

Pointing to the need for road repairs at the Anjoman Pass connecting the Panjshir Valley to Afghan Badakhshan, the FOCUS/ACTED Appeal notes that both organisations are otherwise well positioned to deliver the required relief.

FOCUS is an international emergency response agency that has been active in Afghanistan over the past five years. It has been working through offices in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Pul-e-Khumri, Baharak, Ishkashem and logistics bases in Osh, Kyrgyz Republic and Khorog, Tajikistan. In Afghan Badakshan, it has provided relief to 230,000 people during 1999 with donor support from CIDA, USAID, SDC, WFP and private donors.

ACTED is a French Non Governmental organisation dealing with emergency and rehabilitation activities. It has been working in Central Asia for seven years. It has already used its Tajikistan and Afghanistan bases for large scale cross border emergency/relief operations in the Rustaq earthquake in 1998 with both its immediate response in providing necessary supplies, but also with rehabilitation. In 1999 in Afghanistan and Tajikistan ACTED is providing relief to more than 500,000 with donor support from ECHO, DG8, SDC, French Government, Irish Government, SAFE, TROCAIRE, WFP, UNOCHA and NOVIB.

For further information, please contact:
33 rue Godot de Mauroy
75009 Paris- France
Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 65 33 33
Tel: +33 (0) 6 80 95 20 11 

Focus Humanitarian Assistance
42-44 Grosvenor Gardens
London SW1W 0EB, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 171 730 4442
Tel: +44 (0) 171 730 3044