UN agency hails resumption of food delivery to western Afghanistan
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that, following forced suspension in May due to insecurity, food delivery has resumed along the southern ring road – a major artery linking Kandahar to the western province of Herat and the site of most incidents involving WFP deliveries.
“While there are still major problems, getting trucks moving again along the major ring road is an important breakthrough for our operations, particularly in the western region where WFP has been unable to distribute promised food to tens of thousands,” said the agency’s Afghanistan Country Director Rick Corsino.
He noted that roughly 100,000 poor Afghans have been waiting for food for weeks.
Between 4 and 9 July, 280 metric tons of WFP food supplies were moved from Kandahar to Herat, which has faced a shortage of stocks since deliveries were halted on 28 May due to attacks on the southern ring road.
As a result of the suspension, vulnerable families – including many deported from Iran – in Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor faced food scarcity.
Among these were 65,000 people who work for their communities in exchange for food as well as 55,000 participating in food-for-training programmes.
An additional 4,000 tuberculosis patients who receive rations to spur them to receive treatment were impacted.
“We are planning to gradually increase movements along the southern ring road as long as the security conditions remain acceptable and our transporters feel confident of their safety,” said Mr. Corsino.
“We want to get back to normal operations as quickly as possible, where 1,500 to 2,000 tons is shipped along the road each week.”
WFP aims to supply over half a million metric tons of food to 6.6 million people in Afghanistan yearly.
Since June 2006, there have been 26 incidents involving vehicles transporting WFP food, threatening projects in the western, southern and eastern parts of the war-wracked country.
On 6 July, four WFP-contracted commercial trucks traveling with armed escort were attacked by unknown assailants on the way to Khashrod District in south-western Afghanistan. Two police officers and 13 attackers are reported to have died, with a driver and his helper being held hostage for two days. Approximately 40 tons of food were lost in the incident.
Insecurity on the southern ring road has also impeded deliveries in the reverse direction from Herat to southern and eastern portions of Afghanistan, preventing WFP from providing 1,200 tons of biscuits for almost one million children.
However, other projects in western Afghanistan remain uninterrupted by the insecurity. Since late April, food has been supplied to 1,500 Afghan families who have been deported from Iran, while schoolchildren