11 October 2001

MRDF remains committed to supporting Afghanistan's people in crisis

Despite this weeks' aerial attacks on Afghanistan, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) wishes to ensure its supporters that it will continue supporting the relief effort on behalf of the Afghan people, who, because of conflict, drought and displacement remain at risk of famine.

People wishing to contribute to the Afghanistan appeal can channel money through MRDF who are working through the Action by Churches Together (ACT *) network.

ACT member, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), is gearing up to assist new waves of refugees expected to flee to the rural areas or across the border to Pakistan. The latest news to reach NCA is that more than 600 people have already starved to death near Darae Souf in the northern part of the country. The information could not be confirmed, but people familiar with the situation in that area believe it to be likely.

Before the 11 September terrorist attacks on the US and this week's allied military response, there were already about one million internally displaced people living in the country after a three-year severe drought and a civil war that has lasted at least 20 years. Since then, thousands more have fled the towns for the rural areas, many known for extremely cold temperatures at night. Blankets, food, water and shelter are desperately needed. With winter barely a month away, people need food that will last them at least three months to prevent the need to keep moving in search of food.

A major problem for the ACT network is getting accurate information, as the Taliban has cut all communication lines out of the country. In spite of these problems, ACT partners have kept their programs open to help stave off further displacement of people. About 1200 farmers in the district of Kabul received seed, as part of a program to combat drought. Six thousand families returning to their village in Mazar-i-Sharif in Kabul received food.

At the same time, in Pakistan, demonstrations have started all over the country by hard line religious parties. Peshawar has been taken over by the army, over 10,000 people are demonstrating in Quetta and Christian localities have been attacked in several locations.

For further information or to make a donation please contact Kevin Fray at MRDF on 0207 467 5142.

Note - ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response. It is supported by the Methodist Relief and Development Fund.

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