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Frontline agencies run short of money

[Afghanistan] Spinboldak IDP camp WFP
Wazira and thousands like her at Spin Boldak are victims of the severe drought in Afghanistan
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) told IRIN on Tuesday that its programme to assist Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Afghanistan would grind to a halt by the end of May unless substantial infusions of cash were forthcoming. "All care, maintenance and movement of IDPs, save operations already underway will have to be halted, and that is going to impact on hundreds of thousands of very vulnerable people," Jan de Wilde, IOM's director of programme support told IRIN from Geneva. Consultations are underway with partner agencies, including the UN's refugee agency UNHCR - the newly appointed UN coordinating agency for IDPs in Afghanistan - to coordinate the nature and timing of the cutbacks. IOM programmes providing care and maintenance in IDP camps in the west and north of the country, and programmes to provide transport to help IDPs return to their villages, will have to be suspended pending new funding pledges. The decision to suspend the IDP care and maintenance and return programmes followed a meeting with donors in Geneva on 23 April at which IOM warned that its current spending in Afghanistan was not sustainable. IOM's costs in Afghanistan have risen from about US $3 million per month to US $4.3 million. "Factors behind the overspend include larger than expected numbers of returning refugees and IDPs, and the creation of a transport cartel in Herat [principal city in western Afghanistan], that has vastly inflated transport costs. At one point the cartel was charging IOM about twenty times the market rate for truck rentals," De Wilde added. News of IOM's difficulties followed the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) appeal for urgent aid to help millions of extremely poor Afghans cross the most difficult food gap of the year before the harvest starts in July. "The period from now until the harvest will be the harshest time of the year for millions of Afghans whose meagre food stocks from the bad harvest of last year have depleted," Burke Oberle, WFP Country Director for Afghanistan, said in a press release. According to the release, about nine million Afghans (about 40 percent of the population) will need about 275,000 mt of food aid until the harvest in July. With all the stocks and pledges, WFP has received so far, the agency said it faced a staggering shortage of 75,000 mt of food, worth US $28 million, in the most critical months of the year. "This break in the food pipeline means that WFP food distribution could come to an almost complete stop in the month of June, just when millions of poor Afghans are struggling with the most difficult pre-harvest time known as the 'lean months'," Oberle said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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