The drought-ridden western Afghan province of Badghis has a single, war-shattered hospital and no ambulance - that was used as a getaway car by fleeing Taleban fighters. Food and water are scarce and winter is bearing down quickly, a senior aid worker said. World Vision relief manager Doris Knoechel, speaking yesterday from the organisation's base in the Iranian capital Teheran, said she had rarely witnessed such conditions. 'The hospital reminded me of the worst African scenarios that I am familiar with,' Dr Knoechel said. 'Everything was smashed. Patients were lying on iron beds without any linen and there was hardly any medication for them. One child, a boy of about 10, had had a leg amputated and just seeing the bloodstained stump made me break out in tears.' Another child, being cradled by his father, was suffering from severe malaria. Two young men had bullet wounds in their lower bodies. Although doctors were on hand, they did not have the medicine or supplies to be of much help. Gloves and needles are not even available. 'They do not know how well they will survive,' Dr Knoechel said. 'They cannot help them properly.' Dr Knoechel returned from the western provinces of Badghis, Ghor and Herat four days ago after a two-week visit to assess needs and logistics. She hopes to return with an eight-strong team tomorrow to begin distributing food, medical supplies and clothing. World Vision is one of numerous aid organisations working in Afghanistan. It will initially distribute 3,000 tonnes of food - enough to last a month - to 60,000 families. A convoy of trucks filled with winter clothing and other necessities is also making its way from Europe. Dr Knoechel said she became most aware of the plight of Afghans at a meeting of village elders last week in the Badghis provincial capital, Kalainow. 'These old men were sitting in a circle on the ground in their big turbans and long beards telling of how the children in their villages were crying for food and that they had no more drinking water,' she said. 'They are panicking that they will starve to death. Even their drinking water is not secure.' In one area, five of 10 drinking wells - sunk only three years ago - had dried up. 'In a word, these people are starving,' Dr Knoechel said. 'People will be starving to death in the mountain provinces where drought has hit for a fourth year and resources have been depleted to zero. This cycle of hardship that they have been surviving for hundreds of years they cannot survive any more . . . If we do not access these provinces before the winter, the people will be condemned to death.' Donations to World Vision can be made by direct bank transfer to HSBC (account number 018-377077-003), Hang Seng Bank (286-364385-003) and the Bank of China (012-883-0-002502-5). Crossed cheques payable to World Vision Hong Kong can be sent with personal particulars and marked 'Afghani Refugee Crisis' to Freepost No 69, World Vision Hong Kong. Donations are tax deductible.