According to our sources, this is the latest news from northern Afghanistan:
17 August: the front line was 20-23 kms west of Taloqan with a major advance by the Northern Alliance pushing the Taliban back. However, the Taliban re-attacked and fighting was said to be intense.
18 August: a bit quieter over the night on the front line. Yesterday Taloqan was again bombed by Taliban jets and people are still on the move. Lots of people are not registering per se with any agency (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -- UNOCHA) but are taking refuge with family friends and relatives in the areas around Rostaq and Faizabad. About 3500 IDPs (internally displaced persons) have been officially registered in Faizabad but more are coming and being registered. No significant movement of people back to the Taloqan area. Fighting is said to be intense in the Kunduz, Samangan and Bamiyan provinces.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has requested Mercy Corps' help to distribute 1 metric ton or more of medicines to 1000 families who are stuck in a pocket unreachable by other international non-governmental organizations in Baghlan Province (Khostfering village). A colleague agency Concern Worldwide will provide some motor transport for this and local commanders have pledged their donkeys to carry goods the last bit of the way. We are now waiting for an opportunity to do so with the arrival of our own supplies in the next few days. The World Food Programme (WFP) has also requested Mercy Corps' help to deliver relief items (food) in the Hoja Ghar area.
Mercy Corps staff have purchased 2000 winter blankets in Tajikistan. We are sending all our used clothes down as well. This convoy of 6 seven-ton trucks will be on the way this weekend or early next week and will take about 2-3 days to reach Faizabad.