It's becoming more difficult than ever to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and even to neighboring Pakistan. Local workers with relief groups such as Portland-based Mercy Corps are among those going to remote, safer places or leaving Afghanistan altogether.
Thousands of Afghanis have been fleeing the country since the September 11 attacks on the United States, fearing retaliation against their country. Some officials call the wave of refugees a "humanitarian tragedy of extreme proportions," and Mercy Corps spokeswoman Kim Johnston concurs.
"The current flood of refugees that are headed toward the border with the surrounding countries, as well as those who have already gone across the border in Pakistan, is creating a humanitarian crisis before our eyes."
Johnston says Pakistan is trying to help refugees, but is overwhelmed by the numbers. It's dangerous as well as difficult to be working in Afghanistan, so Johnston says the staff is working on supplying refugee camps.
"We're currently working on contingency plans so we'll be prepared for the refugees in the new refugee camps that are going to be set up."
Those are to be away from borders, which she describes as "in danger's way."
She says the relief group is in daily communication with staff in the region. She reports the situation there has changed drastically in the two weeks since the forced airplane crashes in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania.
"There's a lot of anti-American and anti-western sentiment right now. (The staff is) worried about making sure they have escape routes."
At the same time, she says they're doing as much as they can to plan for the refugees.