Wildfires Burn 10 Villages – Fires not yet Under Control
On 16 June 1999 the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published the first report on a forest fire which broke out in the forest of the Sholake valley, Kunar province of Afghanistan, on 12 June 1999 (Ref. OCHA/GVA – 99/0072)
On 17 June 1999 the German Press Agency dpa (Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH) reported that the Taleban are unable to control the fires.
Xinhua on 18 June reports the the fire is advancing rapidly through Dara Pech valley, some 30 kilometers south of the provincial capital Asadabad.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Islamabad which provided the update to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA) in Islamabad has transmitted updated information via the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan in Islamabad that over 10 sqkms of forest have been completely destroyed over the past few days. Some 300 livestock have been killed and 10 villages burned. So far no human casualties have been reported. The fire is reportedly out of control and extending rapidly. Assessment is currently under way and will be reported soon. OCHA reports on 21 June the GFMC that at this stage OCHA does not plan to deploy fire fighting planes.
The results of the assessment which is currently under way will be released through the Situation Report distribution (OCHA Situation Report No.2) system.
Another news source (
http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=967) on 21 June 1999 reports that several thousand families have fled their homes and international help is required to douse the blaze. According to that report at least four people have been killed.
Kunar is on the border with Pakistan and is a key source of timber exports to Gulf countries. The area is divided between Taleban and opposition control.
The German Press Agency on 19 June confirmed the death of 4 persons and the displacement of 3000 people. DPA quotes Taleban administrator Sadar Azam who told the news agency that enmity between two rival local tribes might be the reason behind the blaze.
Global Emergency Response has offered the availability of an Ilyushin 76 TD large airtanker to be contracted to fight the fires.