By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: As thousands of families flee Helmand fighting, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) called on all parties to the conflict to safeguard civilians.
In a post on Twitter late Tuesday night, UNAMA said “Taliban & ANSF urged to take all feasible measures to protect civilians, including safe paths for those wishing to leave area. UN teams working to verify casualty reports & advocating with parties to stop all civilian harm.”
The UN then issued a statement outlining the Helmand crisis, which they say has displaced thousands of people and interrupted critical health services.
In a report issued by the organization’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the UN said teams have been deployed to assess the humanitarian impact of the situation.
They also warned that fighting between the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and the Taliban, that started on Saturday night, continues to intensify close to the provincial capital of Lashkargah.
UNOCHA states that the most affected areas are Nahr-e-Saraj, Bolan, Babaje, Nad-e-Ali, Marja and Nawa-e-Barakzaiy districts. Some parts of Maiwand district in neighboring Kandahar have also been affected, the report stated.
In addition, the highway between Kandahar and Lashkargah has been inaccessible due to the presence of IEDs.
Local authorities meanwhile report that at least 35,000 people (around 5,000 households) have been displaced into Lashkargah city, while health facilities also report hundreds of casualties. Since Monday, two humanitarian assessment teams have been working in areas of displacement to assess needs and have so far verified nearly 500 internally displaced families. Initial observations from assessment teams show that some IDPs may require immediate food, water and temporary spaces for living.
“Electricity and telecommunication lines have been disrupted in some affected areas. This has affected people’s ability to communicate and humanitarian partners’ ability to conduct assessments,” the UN stated.
“Health facilities have also been affected – either closed or operating in a reduced capacity (focusing on trauma services only). As a result, it is expected that some tens of thousands of people living in these areas will be deprived of access to critical health services.”
The UN also stated that the provincial governor has called on the Afghan National Disaster Management Agency (ANDMA) to help with food and other essential items for at least 500 families verified as having been displaced.
A meeting is expected to be held on Wednesday to address trauma needs, the UN stated.
“Other partners are mobilizing internal resource and response capacity to meet new needs created by these clashes and overcome technical and access related challenges delaying needs assessments.”