Kabul, Aug 5 | The US is deeply concerned about the safety of civilians in Lashkar Gah, the capital city of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, fearing tens of thousands were trapped by fighting, the world body’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
Conflict in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar displaced civilians to adjacent, calmer areas within the provincial capital cities (Lashkar Gah and Kandahar) and neighbouring districts, Xinhua news agency quoted OCHA as saying on Wednesday.
“There are reports of increased civilian casualties, destruction or damage to civilian houses and to critical infrastructure, including hospitals,” the Office said.
“Hospitals and health workers are becoming overwhelmed by the number of wounded people.”
The UN and its humanitarian partners are assessing needs and responding as access allows.
On Sundaym they reached over 2,000 people with food, water, sanitation and cash assistance in Kandahar.
Since the start of the year, nearly 360,000 people have been forcibly displaced by the ongoing conflict.
About 5 million people have been displaced since 2012.
In the first half of the year, attacks on health facilities deprived 200,000 people in Afghanistan of access to primary care, OCHA said.
The humanitarian office urged parties to the conflict to protect civilians, aid workers and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, in compliance with international humanitarian law.
It also called on parties to grant aid workers access to assistance without interference, honoring humanitarian principles.
Humanitarians are committed to stay and deliver in Afghanistan and expect to have reached almost half of the nearly 16 million people targeted for assistance, so far in 2021, despite worsening conditions, said OCHA.
The UN seeks urgent funding for Afghanistan’s humanitarian response plan, which requires $1.3 billion, but has received only $485 million, or 38 per cent of the request.