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Press Release Regarding the Continuation of the Fighting in Afghanistan No:37 - February 26, 2001

We follow with deep concern and regret the continuation of the fighting in Afghanistan.

The humanitarian tragedy caused by the ongoing clashes has gained alarming proportions. Since last July, thousands of people have lost their lives, tens of thousands of people have been internally displaced mainly in northern Afghanistan, and some have sought refuge outside of the country due to the continuing clashes. The fact that hundreds of internally displaced people have lost their lives because of the cold weather is of utmost concern.

The severity of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was repeatedly brought to the attention of the international community through the Ministry's previous statements. The need to pay serious attention to the matter was also emphasized in the Turkish Foreign Minister's letter to the UN Secretary General and the Foreign Ministers of the interested states.

Turkey does not spare her contributions in this direction. A project was initiated on the basis of an assessment made on the urgent humanitarian needs of the internally displaced people during the visit of the Turkish delegation headed by the Turkish Coordinator for Afghanistan in October 2000. In the framework of this project, a total of 1175 shelters have been built or repaired in four villages around the town of Hoca Bahauddin, namely Lolagüzar, Moğol Kışlak, Katocar and Şuturgay. Heaters, coal, sleeping and cooking kits, sanitation material were distributed to the families. Thus, before the winter, around 10 thousand people have been provided with shelter and heating

Naturally, the assistance which has so far been provided and efficiently distributed in the confines of Turkey's available means is undoubtedly not sufficient. Turkey is continuing to implement its humanitarian assistance projects in various regions of Afghanistan. Last week, further medical supplies have been sent to the region to meet the needs of Kabul Atatürk Children's Hospital and the internally displaced people in Northern Afghanistan.

All parties should realize that the problem in Afghanistan cannot be solved by military means. Establishment of an effective and durable ceasefire is a must to start a meaningful dialogue between the parties.