The impact of increasing levels of violence between Taliban and government forces in recent days and weeks has forced thousands to uproot and flee to safety. An estimated 550,000 people have been displaced since the start of the year, according to the United Nations, but actual numbers could be far higher.
The total number of displaced Afghans is now over 3.5 million. More than 18 million people in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance.
“We will stay and deliver”
"We have temporarily paused our programming as the situation deteriorated rapidly but are doing our best to ensure that we can get back to work to reach those men, women, girls, and boys who need it most, including those displaced by the latest fighting, says Eileen McCarthy, NRC Advocacy Manager for Afghanistan.
NRC is preparing for a major crisis: “We are bracing ourselves for a major humanitarian crisis. Terrified families have been fleeing into Kabul in the past days. Camps are overcrowded and children are sleeping out in the open. Families are fighting over food. We fear this situation is being replicated across the country at an unprecedented pace,” says Tracey Van Heerden, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) acting country director in Afghanistan.
One mother, Zahra Omari, told us how she had fled to Kabul from Kunduz province with her six children.
“When people started fleeing, I took my children and fled,” she said. “I didn’t even take milk for my ten-month-old daughter. We found a bus going to Kabul that had the seats removed to cram as many people as possible inside. It was full of frightened men, women and children.”
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“My brother saved my life”
Hafizullah, 55, was injured in Takhar last week after he was hit with shrapnel.
“There is still shrapnel in my body, and I suffer from pain and aches. We were in Takhar city when we got hit by a mortar. Two of my friends got killed and three of us were injured. I was not able to move after I was injured, and my brother came and got me out of the area. If he had not saved me, I would be dead now,” he says.
Hafizullah has taken refuge in one of Kabul’s parks, along with many other displaced families.
“I don’t have any money to go to doctor,” he continues. “I didn’t have any money to transport my family, and my brother paid for our transportation to Kabul. Thanks to the people of Kabul for providing free food for us, otherwise my family and many more would have been going to sleep hungry.”