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The Killid Group
Displacing Hundreds of Afghan Hilmand Military Operation
Sunday, 07 February 2010 18:35
As Afghan security forces gear up for a major military offensive in southern Afghanistan--the largest of the war thus far--civilians have begun fleeing the area, with more than a hundred families registering at a refugee camp near Lashkar Gah.
The operation, led by the Afghan National Army and supported by ISAF forces, will be launched in Helmand province and focus on Dishwa, Washir and Bagharan districts. For the past 20 days, ISAF forces have been blanketing the region with leaflets, warning the local population about the coming battle.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense says that care will be taken to avoid civilian casualties and that the operation will be divided into three phases: rooting out insurgents, bringing government control to the region and returning people to the homes they are now fleeing.
At least 100 families have arrived in the district center of Lashkar Gah from outlying areas, says Ghulam Farooq Wardak, head of the Helmand Province Department of Refugees and Migrants.
Wardak says that his agency, in conjunction with other relief organizations, has prepared facilities for more 15,000 families to seek refuge in and around Lashkar Gah. The refugees will be housed in schools and other public spaces.
He says that ISAF forces informed his department of the coming military operation last month, with the intention of giving him time to prepare for what many expect to be a flood of refugees. His department will be assisted by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Program.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousof Amahd, says that insurgents will fight to the last.