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Helmand fighting disrupts critical health services: UNOCHA

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2020)

Heavy fighting in southern Helmand province, near Lashkargah city, has not only displaced thousands of people but it has also interrupted critical health services as clinics have been forced to shut down in some areas, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on Thursday. 

In an update on the fighting, which broke out on Saturday night when the Taliban launched coordinated attacks across the province, UNOCHA said clashes were reported in Nahr-e-Saraj and Nad-e-Ali districts on Wednesday – two of the areas that have been hardest hit since Sunday. 

The UN agency also stated that the highway between Helmand and Kandahar remains closed. 

UNOCHA said they were verifying the numbers of displaced people after local authorities estimated 35,000 (about 5,000 households) had been forced to flee their homes earlier this week. 

Health clinics in a number of areas have also been affected, the report stated adding that two clinics in Nawa and Bolan closed on Wednesday due to active fighting in the areas while seven other health facilities in Nad-e Ali, Marja, Nahr-e-Saraj, Lashkargah and Nawa also closed down due to threats to health staff. 

“Before closing, the health facilities were operating in a reduced capacity, focusing on trauma care only. The closure of the health facilities affects more than 38,000 people in the area and deprives them of access to critical health services,” the report read.

Meanwhile, food distribution to needy households started on Wednesday. The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) handed out food to 120 households (approximately 800 people ), with up to 1,000 additional households (7,000 people) – who have been displaced – expected to receive ANDMA assistance in Lashkargah in the coming days. 

Electricity and telecommunication lines are still disrupted in some areas, hindering the flow of information. This has affected people’s ability to communicate and humanitarian partners’ ability to conduct assessments, UNOCHA said. 

Meanwhile, the UNHCR will deliver assistance to 600 households (200 tents and 400 non-food item kits). 

UNOCHA “is working with clusters to deliver further assistance, including tents, food and water which have been highlighted as immediate needs,” their report stated adding that the World Health Organization will relocate three Mobile Health Teams (MHTs) to provide medical services to the displaced population in Lashkargah city.

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Polio vaccination campaign rolls out in western Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

More than one million Afghan children are expected to be vaccinated over the next few days in the latest polio vaccination campaign that was launched in western Afghanistan on Sunday.

Officials said the campaign will run for four days and be conducted across four provinces in the western region.

Waheed Rahmani, head of the vaccination campaign, said that 1.1 million children under the age of five are expected to receive the polio drops, including 720,000 in Herat province.

He said that so far there are no obstacles in the way of rolling out the campaign.

Volunteers said that they hope to reach all the children who need to be vaccinated.

“I along with my team will work honestly to make Afghanistan free from polio virus,” said Fina Nezami, a volunteer.

“I hope that Afghanistan becomes polio-free and we are happy to go door to door for vaccinations,” said Yagana Nabizada, another volunteer.

Local health officials have assured the public that all areas will be covered by the campaign.

“We have not forgotten areas, and while planning vaccination programs, all the areas are reviewed and if any area is left out, it will be immediately covered,” said Mohammad Asif Kabir, provincial deputy health director.

Around 728,000 children received polio drops in the previous campaign in Herat. Around 5,000 volunteers are involved in the current campaign in Herat.

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China pledges over $7 million in aid for quake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

China’s ambassador to Kabul Wang Yu met with Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and said his country would provide emergency aid worth 50 million Yuan ($7.5 million) for victims of last week’s earthquake. 

At a meeting on Saturday in Kabul, Wang also said that MCC Mes Aynak copper mining contractor would provide $200,000 in aid. 

Wang said on Twitter: “Chinese enterprises will definitely fulfill their social responsibilities. The friendship between 2 countries and peoples will be further strengthened.”

Muttaqi thanked the Chinese government and people for the timely assistance and assured Wang that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities would distribute the aid promptly, fairly and transparently, state-run Bakhtar news agency reported. 

Aid provided by China will include tents, sheets, fold up beds, and other items urgently needed by the Afghan people. The first batch of aid is scheduled to arrive by charter flight on Monday, Bakhtar reported.

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Thousands of earthquake victims in need of water and food, at risk of disease

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Thousands affected by a deadly earthquake in eastern Afghanistan are in need of clean water and food and are at risk of disease, an Afghan Health Ministry official said on Sunday days after a United Nations agency warned of a cholera outbreak in the region.

At least 1,000 people were killed, 2,000 injured and 10,000 homes destroyed in last Wednesday’s earthquake, after which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that cholera outbreaks in the aftermath are of particular and serious concern.

“The people are extremely needy for food and clean water,” Afghanistan Health Ministry spokesperson Sharafat Zaman told Reuters, adding that officials had managed medicines for now but handling those who had lost their homes would be a challenge.

“We ask the international community, humanitarian organizations to help us for food and medicine, the survivor might catch diseases because they don’t have proper houses and shelters for living,” he said.

The UN and several countries have rushed aid to the affected areas, with more due to arrive over the coming days.

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