UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations and partners are working with Afghan authorities to aid thousands of people reported to be displaced by heavy fighting in southern Helmand Province, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.

The fighting started on Oct. 11 between the Afghan National Security Forces and "a non-state armed group" near Lashkar Gah city, the provincial capital, and continues, displacing a "verified 9,700" people, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a release.

Local authorities initially estimated 35,000 people had been displaced.

A non-state armed group usually refers to Taliban-related groups.

Attacks on health facilities during the fighting are particularly worrying, with the World Health Organization reporting that 15 health facilities have been targeted, affecting thousands of people.

Hospitals in Lashkar Gah are stretched to capacity, OCHA said. However, five health facilities that had been closed in different districts have been reported reopened as of Sunday with limited capacity, restoring health access for approximately 61,000 people.

The UN Children's Fund is supporting local authorities in supplying food and water in displacement centers, the humanitarians said.

Interruptions to mobile phone networks are hindering information flow and the progress of humanitarian needs assessment.

Overall, some 6 million people have been reached with humanitarian assistance under the 2020 Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan in 390 of 401 districts countrywide since the beginning of the year, OCHA said.

Winter is fast approaching, people soon will face freezing conditions and a depleted coping capacity due to COVID-19, decades of war and annual natural disasters, the humanitarians said.

The response plan requires 1.1 billion U.S. dollars to help more than 11 million people, OCHA said, but so far, the plan is only 40 percent funded.

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