The United Nations deputy emergency relief coordinator, Catherine Bragg, today visited Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar as part of her mission to the country ahead of tomorrow's launch the humanitarian appeal for the South Asian nation.
She held meetings with the governor of Kandahar, government officials, United States military officials, the Provincial Reconstruction Team and the representatives from the humanitarian community in the country.
Instability and conflict continue in the southern Afghanistan amid deteriorating humanitarian conditions. The number of war casualties at Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar, which is supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, is at record high, with almost twice as many new patients showing up with war-related injuries in August and September this year as during the same period in 2009.
“The civilian population, particularly in southern Afghanistan, is trapped in the middle and suffer disproportionately,” said Ms. Bragg, who is also the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
“Threats or attacks on the UN and humanitarian community only compound this desperate situation further by limiting assistance and civilian protection,” she added.
In addition to ongoing conflict, humanitarian groups in Kandahar also stressed the impact of natural disasters on the population, including drought, heavy snowfall, and flash floods, which have further reduced access to economic opportunity and increased vulnerability.
In Ms. Bragg's meetings with US military officials and Canadian representatives in the Provincial Reconstruction Team, she urged respect for the Geneva Conventions and the right of the affected population to receive humanitarian assistance.
“I urge all parties to the conflict to allow and ensure safe and sustained humanitarian access to civilian populations in need,” said Ms. Bragg.