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Improved security eases UN aid effort in Afghanistan, but snow hampers delivery

Improved security eases UN aid effort in Afghanistan, but snow hampers delivery

Improved security has facilitated the United Nations relief effort in Afghanistan, but relief workers must clear accumulating snow in order to deliver aid to parts of the war-ravaged country, UN officials said today.

“In the north, the situation has noticeably improved over the last week with a reduction of armed forces in the city of Mazar and the regularization of forces within the city,” Stephanie Bunker, the spokesperson for the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, told reporters in Islamabad. “Access to some rural areas, such as Faryab province, has started to become possible due to improvements in security.”

In Hazarajat, the first UN plane since 1998 landed at Bamiyan City. While snow has begun falling, teams are on standby in Hazarajat to clear all strategic passes if necessary so that access routes can remain open through winter, according to Ms. Bunker.

Wagdi Othman, a spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said precipitation was making food deliveries more difficult to some parts of Afghanistan. “In Faizabad, it has been snowing and raining almost non-stop for the last couple of days,” said Othman, predicting that snow would begin to accumulate on a vital road for WFP food aid deliveries from Tajikistan to Faizabad.

“WFP snow clearance team is working on the road to keep it open,” the spokesperson noted. “The team has also enlisted the help of the local population in clearing snow from known trouble spots.”

In another development, a team of specialists from the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has arrived in Kabul to begin work on re-establishing a drug supply system in Afghanistan, according to agency spokesperson Lori Hieber-Girardet. “The aim of the WHO mission is to help the Ministry of Health develop the capacity to undertake random testing to ward against potentially harmful medicines, such as unsuitable, expired or fake drugs,” she said.