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Insecurity hampers food aid delivery in Afghanistan – UN agency

Insecurity hampers food aid delivery in Afghanistan – UN agency

With food stocks running short in Afghanistan and security problems hampering relief operations there, the United Nations food agency warned today that thousands of vulnerable Afghans may soon see critical food supplies suspended.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said it has been unable to move food to the country’s western region for four weeks due to insecurity.

Unless the agency can resume movement along the southern ring road – a major artery linking Kandahar to Herat and the site of most incidents involving WFP deliveries – it will have to reduce or suspend distributions to many of the poor families, children and internally displaced people living in those areas.

“We continue to work with Government authorities at central, provincial and district level, as well as our own transporters, to enable deliveries to resume, hopefully as soon as possible,” Rick Corsino, WFP Country Director for Afghanistan, said.

WFP currently has 14,800 metric tons of food ready to move in Quetta, Pakistan, with transporters and trucks available to resume shipments across the border into Afghanistan when conditions permit.

Since June 2006, there have been 25 incidents involving trucks carrying WFP food throughout Afghanistan, the agency reports. An estimated 600 tons of food – valued at about $400,000 – has been lost.

While significant, Mr. Corsino said the loss represented only a fraction of overall deliveries. “In the past 12 months, WFP Afghanistan has moved over 150,000 tons of food to needy people throughout the country. The losses from the attacks and looting during this time account for less than .4 per cent of the total but transporters insist on minimum security guarantees.”

WFP aims to provide 520,000 metric tons of food aid to 6.6 million Afghans between January 2006 and December 2008 – at a cost of $372 million.