The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today said it would resume badly needed food aid shipments to Afghanistan suspended in the wake of the 11 September attacks against the United States.
The restart of shipments on a trial basis is an effort to reach hundreds of thousands of hungry people in northern and western Afghanistan, the epicentre of the country's devastating food crisis, WFP said in a statement from its headquarters in Rome. However, using existing stocks inside the country, the agency has continued to feed up to a million people since international staff were withdrawn beginning 12 September.
Deteriorating security conditions and lack of commercial transport had forced the UN agency to suspend food shipments on 12 September, shortly after it had launched a multi-million dollar appeal to save millions from the hunger caused by a vicious cycle of drought and war.
WFP said an estimated 1.6 million people would run out of food by December without the additional aid. Overall, there are currently only enough WFP food stocks inside Afghanistan to feed the normal countrywide caseload of 3.8 million people for three weeks, the agency said.
For the past few days, the agency has also mobilized staff and pre-positioned stocks in warehouses in neighbouring countries. "We are confident that Afghans who may cross the borders in the coming few days will receive WFP food," said Khaled Adly, Regional Director for WFP in West Asia and the Middle East. " Moreover, we are looking into concrete plans of helping those who could be stranded on the Afghan side of the borders."