[R-G] WWIII update - civilian casualties, exodus
bstoller at utopia2000.org
Fri Oct 19 12:28:31 MDT 2001
BBC (with additional by Reuters). 19 October 2001. Chaos as Afghans flee
Refugees have been flooding out of Afghanistan in terror at continued US
More than 3,500 Afghans poured into the border town of Chaman on Friday
after fleeing heavy bombing in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
The UN said the refugees came with no food and no belongings -- and they
described the situation as chaotic.
"A wave of panic has swept the border," a spokeswoman for the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees told the AFP news agency.
"Our border monitors reported that about 3,500 people, mostly women and
children, entered Pakistan at the Chaman border crossing Friday," UNHCR
spokeswoman Fatoumata Kaba said.
Intense U.S.-led military strikes on targets in and around Kandahar
overnight and Friday morning appeared to have sparked panic among
residents of the Taliban stronghold in southwest Afghanistan, Kaba said.
It appeared to be the biggest single exodus of Afghan civilians to
Pakistan since Western strikes began 13 days ago.
Describing the new arrivals in Pakistan as a "sudden rush," Kaba said
she believed they had been allowed to enter on humanitarian grounds --
although witnesses said a few well-aimed stones had also probably helped
focus the border guards' minds.
In the morning, a crowd of around 2,000 people had gathered at Chaman on
the Afghan side.
There was also a long queue of around 200 donkey-carts bringing scrap
metal for foundries in Pakistan -- a daily routine -- stopped by the
When the crowd started throwing stones at the border post, the gates
were opened and the hundreds of people pushed their way in.
Among them were five families with members they said had been injured in
the U.S. air raids.
Nazar Muhammad, with multiple fractures in his legs and one arm, and his
son Mohammad Zaman with a broken back, were the two most seriously
Pakistani officials say 50,000 Afghans have crossed into Pakistan since
the crisis began.
The UN is painting an increasingly bleak picture of the fate of the
Many Afghans, they say, have not got money for food, let alone the
journey to the border.
New arrivals report having to pay smugglers up to $50 -- a huge sum in a
country already brought to its knees by drought and war.
The Pakistani Government is only allowing new refugee camps to be built
in the border area, a remote and inhospitable region.
Aid agencies have pleaded with the government to be allowed to build
Refugee Mohammed Gul, a refugee from Kandahar told the BBC's Pashto
service that he worked in a military hospital, but medicines had run
He said: "Bombs were hitting people's houses."
"They damaged lots of houses and they injured and killed lots of
"We were there and I saw about 50 people who died and some became
"Everyone is looking to the sky and waiting and thinking when will the
American aircraft come and starting killing them."
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