AIR STRIKES ON AFGHANISTAN: Humanitarian Operation - Aid Agencies Race against Time to Feed 7.5 Million
Milmo, Cahal, The Independent (London, England)
MORE THAN 30 international and Afghan aid agencies are involved in the desperate struggle to stockpile enough food in Afghanistan to feed 7.5 million people this winter.
From co-operatives distributing sacks of grain to remote villages to the United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP), the humanitarian operation has five weeks to act before freezing conditions set in. These are some of the organisations involved in what the UN yesterday called a "real race against time".
Food delivery: The World Food Programme
The UN's food aid agency has set itself the task of delivering 55,000 tons of grain, pulses and oil per month from its bases in Pakistan, Iran and Turkmenistan. But WFP convoys have been hampered by border closures, bureaucracy and a lack of trucks and drivers.
Independent observers estimate the agency needs to move 700 truckloads of aid every day for the next five weeks to stockpile the 250,000 tons of food needed for the winter.
A WFP spokesman said yesterday that it could still deliver into main cities, such as Herat, Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif during the winter but air-drops would be needed to reach other areas.
The local distributors: Oxfam/Christian Aid
The two UK agencies are part of a series involved in helping with the local distribution of WFP aid. Their 400 local staff work around Kandahar, Herat, Kabul, and Faisabad in Northern Alliance territory.
Oxfam workers based in Pakistan said their main priority for aid was the central region of Hazarajat - a vast and remote area where some 2 million of the 7.5 million Afghans reliant on aid live. Once the first snows arrive in the middle of November, Hazarajat will be accessible only by air, according to Oxfam.
Christian Aid, which works in Afghanistan by funding five Afghan aid agencies, has committed pounds 3.75m towards its efforts to counter the food crisis.
Before the events of 11 September, its work had been dedicated towards measures to beat the three-year drought that has turned Afghan farmland into a desert. …