LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Afghans who have fled fighting in the northern city of Kunduz since it fell to the Taliban a week ago are suffering dire conditions with host families already living in poverty, aid agencies and residents said on Monday.
Afghan forces have been battling to drive Taliban fighters from the city which the insurgents entered unexpectedly at the start of last week. [nL5N1CE086]
Most people had no chance to take any belongings with them, said Geeta Bashardost, a women's rights activist from Kunduz who fled to the capital, Kabul.
"I fled Kunduz on the first day of fighting, but all my family is back in the city under the rockets and mortar shells of Taliban and government forces," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
The United Nations said on Thursday that as many as 10,000 refugees had arrived in Kabul and northern towns including Taloqan and Mazar-i-Sharif.
Afghanistan already has more than 1.2 million internal refugees, with some 260,000 forced to flee their homes across the country this year as the fighting has continued.
"The primary need (of the displaced) is food and clothes, as most of their host families are not in a good economic condition," said Abdul Rahim Qayoumi, head of Afghan Red Crescent Society in the northern province of Baghlan.
He said his organisation had not begun to offer assistance because the logistics were not yet in place.
In Baghlan's Pul-e-Khumri city, Noorullah Shokori, a florist from Kunduz, said he had escaped the city with his wife and five children.
"The people live a very miserable life here. Up to five families live in one rented house of two rooms," Shokori said by phone.
"If the government does not act swiftly to clear up Kunduz from the Taliban and end the fighting, winter and cold weather will kill a lot more Kunduzi people than the Taliban."
Mustafa Qudos, the deputy police chief of Takhar province said the provincial governor had appealed to residents and businesses to help the displaced people.
"Ordinary farmers baked bread at home and distributed to the Kunduz IDPs (internally displaced people) in Takhar, some people took them into their homes, university students raised funds to buy tents and food," he said.
(Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)