GENEVA - The United Nations reports landmines and other explosive devices are making it too dangerous for aid agencies to enter the Afghan city of Ghazni, where civilians there are in need of food and water after nearly a week of intensive fighting.
The Taliban, which attacked August 11, reportedly moved to the outskirts of the city and is slowly withdrawing to surrounding villages. Afghan military forces are said to be engaged in mop-up operations in the city of 270,000 people.
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Afghan Red Crescent reports 200 to 250 civilians have been killed during the weeklong assault.
OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke says aid agencies inside the city report that conditions are desperate.
"We expect that there will be a very big need for psycho-social support among the residents, including for children," he said. "There are reports of unaccompanied minors turning up at the hospital looking for their families. Many shops and markets have reportedly been burned or looted. Some shops have reopened, but the effect of this has been the prices for basic commodities have gone up."
Laerke says parts of the water system in Ghazni are functioning again and mobile phone networks are gradually coming back. But, he adds, electricity is mostly out and must be restored to ensure the water supply can start up again.
Civilians and humanitarian workers will not be able to enter the city until the mines and improvised explosive devices are cleared away.
However, Laerke says, aid agencies already on the ground are doing their best to assist people.
UNICEF aid workers are in the process of using chlorine to flush the water system, he said, adding that the World Food Program is ready to deliver food aid as soon it can safely access the area.