Posted By: Erica

Since the end of April, hundreds of Afghan families have fled the Garmsir region of Helmand province due to fighting between insurgents and US-led forces. High estimates by the Afghan Red Crescent Society and by the UN agency for refugees in Afghanistan have suggested that as many as 1000 families have fled. Other media and NGO sources I spoke to reported displacement of a few hundred families. The US military spokeswoman I spoke to, Kelly Frushour, suggested the military only saw a few hundred people displaced.

The Afghan Red Crescent Society and other aid agencies in the region are reporting extreme shortages of the blankets, food, water, shelter, and medical supplies necessary to attend to this population — many of whom have been displaced since the end of April.

I spoke to a US Military representative in Helmand province today to see if the US military itself was involved in helping any of these families. Two US Military Civil-Military Affairs officers have been dispatched to provide emergency relief with money made available from the Commander’s Emergency Relief Program (CERP) and from the ISAF Post-Operations Humanitarian Relief Fund (POHRF). In addition, there are USAID mobile representatives on the scene as well as representatives from the British military’s Civil Military Affairs unit. However, they are still in the process of assessing what type of aid is needed.

The coordinator I spoke with was not able to give me an estimate of how long it usually takes for emergency relief from “immediate” aid pools like CERP or POHRF to get to civilians. At least in the Garmsir situation, the answer seems to be not soon enough.

Image courtesy of CIVIC
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