News - Afghanistan
The number of displaced persons is increasing in Afghanistan's north with more than 400 displaced families seeking refuge in the capital of northern Balkh province, local officials said Thursday.
Hundreds of people including women and children have come to Mazar-e-Sharif from Balkh's Chemtal district and neighbouring Sar-e Pul province in an attempt to flee instability and violence in their home towns, according to officials.
On Thursday alone, as many as 158 families received humanitarian aid from the provincial department of the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, Balkh director Abdul Saboor Qaderi said.
The Afghan north traditionally has been viewed as the more peaceful part of the embattled country, but that has changed in recent years as insurgents spread from the troublesome south and east regions where the Nato-led forces have focused their crackdown on militants.
Qaderi said more than 500 families across the northern provinces have been displaced and more are expected to arrive in Mazar.
"We surveyed and identified more than 500 families displaced from districts and other provinces by the provincial Emergency Committee," he told TOLOnews.
According the United Nations agency for refugees UNHCR, it has given assistance to as many as 2000 displaced families so far this year.
"UNHCR has provided food and other emergency needs to more than 2,000 displaced families since the start of this year. The aid were given according to their needs," UNCHR spokesman in northern Afghanistan Fahim Hamdard told TOLOnews.
The officials are concerned that with the harsh winter season drawing closer, the challenge of providing for displaced families will be compounded.
This comes in the same week that the outgoing director of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan said that the deteriorating security situation in the country could lead to a humanitarian crisis.
"With the armed conflict in Afghanistan's red zone, life for ordinary Afghans has taken a turn for the worst. I am filled with concern as I leave this country," Reto Stocker said at a press conference in Kabul on Monday. "Since I arrived here in 2005, local armed groups have proliferated, civilians have been caught between multiple armed actors and it has been extremely difficult for Afghans particularly in rural areas to obtain health care when injured or sick."
He added that the armed conflict also caused people to flee their homes and had led to an increase in displaced families.
400 Displaced Families Seeking Refuge in Balkh Capital