Global perspective Human stories

Military developments 'fundamentally' alter aid effort in Afghanistan: UN official

Military developments 'fundamentally' alter aid effort in Afghanistan: UN official

The rapidly changing military developments in Afghanistan have "fundamentally changed" the conditions for the delivery of assistance into the war-ravaged and drought-stricken country, a senior United Nations relief official said today.

Kevin Kennedy of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told reporters in New York that the effects of the military campaign were uneven. "The picture is somewhat mixed," he said. "In some areas our ability to deliver assistance has improved, in other areas it has deteriorated."

While insecurity caused by ongoing hostilities and unrest had impeded the delivery of relief supplies, particularly around Mazar-i-Sharif in the north, he noted that the UN had succeeded in continuing the flow of aid to Afghanistan. Over the last two months, he noted, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) had delivered over 80,000 metric tonnes of food into the country. "It really is a very significant and tremendous achievement on their part and on the part of their partners - NGO, Afghan and international," Mr. Kennedy said.

Meanwhile in Islamabad, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that Afghanistan's ability to detect and control tuberculosis was declining. "WHO is also concerned about the possibility of further emergence of drug-resistant strains of the disease," said Christine McNab, warning that conditions were ripe for the spread of TB in Afghanistan, which already experiences an estimated 60-70,000 new cases of the disease every year.

In Kabul, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was "swamped" with some 5,000 people seeking employment after it advertized 22 available posts, according to agency spokesperson Maki Shinohara. "UNHCR normally receives about 50 applications for a post, so this disproportionate scale of interest shows the lack of jobs and desperation of people in Kabul." She pledged that the agency would carefully consider "ethnic balance" in the hiring process, adding that special consideration would be given to female applicants.