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Refugee News                       September 1997
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Afghanistan: Thousands of new refugees  More information
The recent resurgence in fighting in Afghanistan has resulted in a new wave of refugees in the country with the largest refugee population in the world. 

Fighting was most prominent during the second half of July as the Taliban religious army were defending territory north of the capital Kabul from the attacks of opposition forces led by Afghanistan's former military chief, Ahmed Shah Masood. The opposition forces took strategic cities and the Baghram air base. They are now within rocket range of the capital. However, their offensive appeared to have stalled eight miles north of the capital, near the village of Shakardara. 

The opposition says the latest offensive is an attempt to push the Taliban into negotiations, but there is no sign the Taliban is ready to comply with the opposition demand to vacate the capital. 

The Taliban controls two-thirds of Afghanistan. Earlier this year it seemed poised to take the rest but it was forced southward. People living in areas under its control are forced to observe a rigid interpretation of Islam. Women are not allowed to go to work or school; men are forced into mosques to pray. 

Refugees streamed toward Kabul to escape heavy fighting north of the capital. Most of the front- line villages north of Kabul already have been evacuated. The United Nations said that an estimated 200,000 refugees had fled to Kabul so far this year, considerably straining the city's limited resources. As many as 15,000 fled since the recent onset of fighting. The latest wave of refugees all came from Shakardara. Some 20 international aid workers pulled out of the capital as the opposition closed in. 

One reason the Taliban's swift advances had been that they did not pillage. Refugees from areas seized recently by Masood's forces have confirmed their notorious reputation as robbers and looters.

Some 200,000 are displaced in Afghanistan as a result of recent 

Afghanistan: Refugees Flee To Kabul 

Civilians flee as Taliban suffer crucial loss north of Kabul 

Thousands flee Afghan fighting 

25 July 1997: Taliban in disarray as Kabul faces recapture 

31 July 1997: Kabul prefers the Taliban to 'liberation' by Masood 

UNHCR Information on:- 

Refugee News: More about Afghanistan