UNICEF to truck emergency aid to Afghanistan

28 September 2001

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today announced that it would use trucks and donkeys to transport 200 metric tonnes of aid across mountainous regions of Afghanistan to those in need.

The delivery scheduled for tomorrow would represent the largest UN load ever to cross the Shah Saleem pass - a high mountainous path which is only open for a few months each year, said UNICEF's Nigel Fischer in a briefing to journalists in Islamabad. "The snows have already started, so it may well be the case that this is the last convoy that we will be ale to send through the pass this year," he said.

The 19-truck convoy will originate from Peshawar, Pakistan, travelling up to an altitude of 3,000 metres, where the supplies will be transferred to 50 to 100 four-wheel-drive vehicles. "For the last stage of the trek over the [Shah Saleem] pass, a team of 500 partners will transfer the supplies onto 4,000 donkeys for a two-day, 40-kilometre journey, down the mountain side, into Afghanistan," said the UNICEF representative. The final leg of the journey into Faizabad will be conducted by truck.

Included in the convoy are clothes and shoes for children, family kits - consisting of soap, kettles, plates, buckets and blankets - high-protein porridge and materials to provide education for 70,000 young students.

Stressing the significance of the educational supplies, Mr. Fischer said UNICEF was committed to the return of Afghanistan's children to school in order to help them resume a normal and secure life. "Wherever and whenever we can, UNICEF will be encouraging the re-establishment of this most basic routine in the life of a family, and at the very heart of that routine is the desire of the Afghan people to have their children educated," he said.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced on Thursday that its local aid workers still controlled food stocks at the agency's warehouse in Kandahar, but the Taliban remained in control of WFP's office and communication equipment.

WFP officials are urging the Taliban to ensure the safety of the agency's staff and stocks and to allow the aid workers to continue their operations.


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