Tags: U.N. | Resumes | Food | Aid | Afghanistan

U.N. Resumes Food Aid to Afghanistan

Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM

In a statement issued simultaneously in New York and Rome, the WFP said deteriorating security conditions and lack of commercial transportation had forced the U.N. agency to suspend food shipments to Afghanistan on Sept. 12, the day after the terrorist attacks in the United States.

While most of WFP's food supplies are pledged in kind by donor countries, including the United States, Mexico, Argentina and Canada, over $300 million is bought by the agency from multilateral and bilateral cash resources.

"Our local staff together with aid workers from various non-governmental organizations will continue to work under extremely difficult conditions to help avoid starvation in Afghanistan," the document states.

Kenzo Ochima, the U.N. coordinator for humanitarian affairs, told reporters at a daily news briefing at the United Nations in New York that the Taliban regime "is not making things any easy" for the humanitarian aid to reach people in need.

He said the borders remain almost closed and the difficulty of obtaining trucks to carry food and other aid to refugees is the main obstacle.

In an update on the humanitarian situation, the High Commissioner for Refugees indicated that border crossings into Pakistan "remain more or less closed" to Afghans traveling without documents. Pakistani police "continue to stop and send back other Afghans attempting to enter" the Peshawar region, the statement added.

WFP said it had decided to restart its food shipments to the worst hit areas in Afghanistan "where security remains relatively stable, local transportation is available and non-governmental organizations are present on the ground to oversee distribution" of food aid. The agency has continued to feed up to a million people using existing stocks inside Afghanistan.

Fred Eckhard, spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan, confirmed that Pakistan had partially reopened its borders with Afghanistan, and added that, under international law, all countries are obligated to open their frontiers to incoming refugees.

Pakistani police had been sending back Afghan refugees at several border crossings in the last two weeks since the terrorist attacks in the United States. The refugees are fleeing from Afghanistan fearing a U.S.-led military campaign of retaliation against their country, whose ruling Taliban regime has been accused of harboring suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban has taken over the U.N. offices in the southern city of Kandahar and locked up all U.N. communications equipment in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital.

Ochima reiterated an appeal launched Monday by the largest U.N. relief agencies for international help to cope with a humanitarian crisis "of stunning proportions." He announced there would be a meeting of international donors later this week at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the issue.

According to the latest U.N. figures, more than 5 million people currently require humanitarian assistance to survive, including more than 1 million people who have been displaced from their homes, and tens of thousands are now on the move in search of safety and assistance.

Already, 3.8 million Afghans rely on U.N. food aid to survive. By Nov. 1, the World Food Program estimates that 5.5 million people will depend on its food shipments, U.N. officials have said.

The agency in general had $1.5 billion in expenditures in 1999. Many countries that once received food aid, like South Korea and Mexico, have now become food exporters, and many others, like Croatia and Morocco, are now food donors.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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In a statement issued simultaneously in New York and Rome, the WFP said deteriorating security conditions and lack of commercial transportation had forced the U.N. agency to suspend food shipments to Afghanistan on Sept. 12, the day after the terrorist attacks in the United...
U.N.,Resumes,Food,Aid,Afghanistan
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2001-00-25
Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM
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