The Government of Uzbekistan has agreed to allow the United Nations, for the first time since 1998, to use the Termez River port to move humanitarian goods to Afghanistan, a senior UN official announced today.
Speaking to reporters in Tashkent, Kenzo Oshima, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said Uzbekistan had also agreed to the use of related barges, "which can carry up to 1,000 metric tonnes of food [and] offer tremendous potential for getting food into the northern part of Afghanistan."
Noting that he would soon travel to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, Mr. Oshima stressed that it was in the best interests of Afghanistan's neighbours "to do everything they can to facilitate the work of the UN in addressing this terrible vulnerability, this famine, this crisis."
Meanwhile, inside Afghanistan, the World Food Programme (WFP) began distributing 500 metric tonnes of food - enough to feed 60,000 people for a month - to internally displaced people in Kabul.
In Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, is set to leave tomorrow for a one-week mission to Pakistan and Iran. Making his second trip to the region in six months, the High Commissioner hopes to get a "first hand look at UNHCR's current state of readiness and preparations for a possible large-scale influx of Afghans," the agency said.