In letter to Annan, former King of Afghanistan urges aid to country's people

In letter to Annan, former King of Afghanistan urges aid to country's people

The former King of Afghanistan has written to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealing for aid to Afghans living both in their country and in refugee camps in neighbouring States.

In a recent letter to the Secretary-General, the exiled former King, Mohammad Zaher Shah, makes an urgent appeal for a further increase and expansion of the humanitarian aid programme to meet the immediate needs of the beleaguered Afghan people.

The appeal comes on the eve of a two-day meeting of the Afghan Support Group, which brings together major donor nations. That meeting, set to open on Thursday in Islamabad, will assess Afghanistan's humanitarian needs.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the people of Afghanistan "continue to face a bleak reality after suffering over 21 years of conflict." In addition to the havoc wreaked by continuous fighting, the country has endured the worst drought in living memory. Crop failures, fighting, and a crumbling economy have sent hundreds of thousands of Afghans fleeing to neighbouring States, where many live in overcrowded camps in dire need of relief aid.