Kabul Emptying Out Amid Fears of U.S. Attack

But Borders Remain Virtually Sealed

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, SEPT. 24, 2001 (Zenit.org).-Fearing an imminent U.S. attack, people are fleeing from the Afghan capital of Kabul, including from hospitals.

According to humanitarian organizations´ reports received in Islamabad, the situation is tense. Borders are sealed, medical supplies are dwindling, and many pharmacies are closed. Food is in short supply.

The Taliban have asked the health personnel to prepare for war. «By disposition of the authorities, after the first attack we must go immediately to the nearest hospital or clinic,» Dr. Saleh Rahman Rahmani told Reuters.

«People are afraid, and most of our youngest patients have been taken away,» Rahmani said. «If there is a war, we are ready to do our duty and cure the wounded with the few means available.»

Foreign relief-workers have left the country. Almost all 300 beds of Kabul´s Children´s Hospital are empty. Electricity is cut off several times a day, and there is only one generator.

Kabul had a population of close to 1.5 million. During the past 10 days, reports say, hundreds of thousands of people have fled, out of fear of an attack in reprisal for the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States.

Tens of thousands of refugees have gone to the borders with Pakistan and Iran, but the authorities of both countries have virtually closed the borders. Few refugees manage to cross over; some do so by bribing border officials.

According to the U.N. Food Program, the city´s wheat and cereal stocks will last about a month.

Meanwhile, the eight co-workers of the Christian group Shelter Now International, who were arrested in Kabul last month and accused of proselytism, reportedly have been moved from the capital´s prison to a secret location.

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