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WFP suspends food aid deliveries after attack

From January 2006 to December 2008, at a cost of US$372 million, WFP plans to distribute 520,000 metric tonnes of food aid to 6.6 million vulnerable Afghans. Masoud Popalzai/IRIN

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has temporarily withheld movement of food in southwestern Afghanistan after a convoy delivering food aid to Afghan deportees from Iran was attacked, WFP told IRIN.

A 14-truck WFP convoy, which was carrying 500 tonnes of food, and was escorted by over 110 armed police, came under fire on the Herat-Nimruz highway in Farah Province, southwestern Afghanistan, on 8 September.

At least four police officers and 10 assailants were killed in the fighting, Gulam Dastgheer Azad, the governor of Nimruz, said.

All trucks were commercially hired by the UN food agency, but none displayed UN markings.

“My own view is that the attackers are primarily thieves more than those with political motivations,” Rick Corsino, WFP representative in Afghanistan, told IRIN in Kabul.

This is not the first time unidentified armed men have attacked and looted food aid trucks in the restive southern provinces of Afghanistan: According to WFP, over 25 incidents of attacks on food aid convoys have happened so far in 2007.

Preparations for winter

Ahead of the winter, which blocks access to some remote mountainous parts of Afghanistan, the WFP has pre-positioned food aid in strategic locations in order to avoid shortages.

In January and February flood and avalanche-affected communities in Badakshan, Daykundi and Ghor provinces - where roads were inaccessible due to heavy rain and snowfall – complained about lack of food aid. WFP and several other aid organisations said, however, that they had responded to nationwide demands for aid.

“We are better prepared this year than last year, in terms of resources. We look essentially province by province and district by district to see which ones will become inaccessible earlier, and then we target our food distributions on that basis,” Corsino told IRIN in Kabul.

In August the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that because of favourable weather in 2007, Afghanistan would almost achieve “self-sufficiency” in terms of cereal production.

This has encouraged aid workers to anticipate a better winter than 2006 when the country imported over one million tonnes of cereals from neighbouring countries.

“This year because the prospects for wheat crops are much greater in Afghanistan than they were last year we purchased 4,000 tonnes of wheat in Herat. We also, for the first time, bought 9,000 tonnes of wheat from Iran, which we will distribute in Badghis and Ghor provinces,” Corsino added.

Over 6.5 million food insecure

Almost six years after the international donor community pledged to rid Afghanistan of poverty and hunger, over 6.5 million Afghans (about 26 percent of the country’s 24.5 million population) are still considered food insecure.

WFP has plans to feed 3.5 million most vulnerable Afghans in 2007 through a number of food-for-work, food-for-education and emergency response projects.

Ahead of an international conference on the rebuilding of Afghanistan in January 2006, WFP had called on donors to “remember that food is still a serious issue” for millions of Afghans.


see also
Food aid trucks come under increasing attacks

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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