U.N. to resume food aid shipments to Afghanistan
By David Brough
ROME, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) decided on Tuesday to resume food aid shipments to Afghanistan suspended after the September 11 attacks against the United States.
Deteriorating security conditions and lack of commercial transport had forced WFP, the main food aid agency in the country, to suspend shipments to Afghanistan on September 12.
"The United Nations World Food Programme today decided to resume food aid shipments on a trial basis to hundreds of thousands of hungry people in northern and western Afghanistan, the epicentre of the country's devastating food crisis," Rome-based WFP said in a statement.
"Our local staff together with aid workers from various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) will continue to work under extremely difficult conditions to help avoid starvation in Afghanistan," Khaled Adly, regional director for WFP in west Asia and the Middle East, said.
"This will mark the first effort to deliver relief supplies into Afghanistan since the crisis began," he added. About 30 NGOs had been pressing the WFP to end the ban on food shipments to Afghanistan and rush in tonnes of wheat immediately.
However, using existing stocks inside Afghanistan, WFP has continued to feed up to a million people whom it could access ever since international staff were withdrawn from September 12. WFP estimates that without additional aid, some 1.6 million Afghans in the northern provinces will run out of food by December.
The WFP condemned the seizure of food aid by the Taliban in the southern city of Kandahar and said the action threatened its operations in the southern provinces.
The food remained in storage on Tuesday.
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