Warning of looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, UN appeals for urgent funding

26 June 2002
James T. Morris

Warning of a potential humanitarian crisis looming over Afghanistan, a senior United Nations official today urged donors to back international efforts to help the country rebuild from decades of conflict and years of drought.

"Unless we get additional cash immediately, we could see malnutrition with the risk of starvation rising," cautioned the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), James T. Morris, who is travelling in the country. "The donor countries helped WFP prevent a famine in the past winter, and now their support has to be sustained if we are to avoid a crisis in the coming winter."

Currently, WFP's Afghanistan operation faces a shortage of 175,000 metric tons of food worth approximately $102 million. To cope with this shortfall, the agency has had to cut various programmes and focus its limited resources mainly on those people who require food aid just to survive.

Today, Mr. Morris visited WFP-supported projects in Kabul, including a bakery run by war widows, to gain a first-hand look at the situation of the most destitute people in the Afghan capital. During his first visit to Afghanistan since becoming the head of the UN agency in April, Mr. Morris spoke with WFP food aid recipients, local officials and national leaders.

"Humanitarian assistance to support both emergency and recovery must continue," he said. "Now is the time to make a firm commitment to the future of Afghanistan."

 

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