Global perspective Human stories

Relief effort in Afghanistan faces increasing obstacles, UN officials say

Relief effort in Afghanistan faces increasing obstacles, UN officials say

With Afghanistan's severe winter approaching fast, relief agencies are facing increasing obstacles as they race against time to bring aid to millions of destitute and suffering people in the country, UN officials said today.

"The operating environment in Afghanistan is getting worse by the day," spokesman Hasan Ferdous told reporters in Islamabad. "This is a country with 6 million people in need of aid. They are not getting anywhere near the aid they need."

Reporting on several mine-related incidents, Mr. Ferdous said five children living in a camp for internally displaced persons had died recently as a result of landmine explosions. "Apparently the children were looking for firewood as the distribution of fuel for heating and cooking purposes had been stopped in the camp," he said, adding that the UN-supported Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan estimated that each week between 40 to 100 people were injured by mines.

The World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, said it had regained control of its Kabul warehouse seized earlier by the Taliban. "The armed Taliban have left the warehouse," WFP spokesman Khaled Mansour told the Islamabad briefing. "We urge the Taliban to return the control of the other warehouse in Kandahar to WFP."

In another development, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers, in remarks to the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, said that refugees and asylum-seekers were already the object of considerable mistrust in many countries and that the war on terrorism must not become a war on Afghans nor a war on Islam.