Afghanistan Alert: 7,500,000 at risk

Humanitarian agencies launch alert: 7.5 million people are at risk in Afghanistan.

The FAO, the United Nations Organization for food and agriculture, has issued a warning that there is a real threat of massive starvation among the population of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Years of drought, coupled with 20 years of civil war and now the present conflict, have placed at least 7.5 million people at risk of starvation in the coming months.

The FAO document highlights the desperate plight of these civilians, trapped between the ruthless Taleban authorities and the implacable carpet-bombing undertaken by the US/UK alliance. It states that the military operations are putting the population at increased risk.

The World Food Programme (WFP) intends to distribute 52,000 tonnes of food aid per month among the 1.5 million refugees in Pakistan and neighbouring countries and the 6 million trapped inside Afghanistan. The WFP also states that the bombing campaign hinders the humanitarian programme, since columns of vehicles can be strafed and food warehouses have been bombed systematically, despite clear marking with Red Cross symbols, mistakenly taken as targets by the US/UK pilots.

By mid November, Afghanistan’s harsh winter is due to set in, worsening the humanitarian and political situation – Ramadan begins on November 17th. Afghanistan’s neighbours have also been affected by the prolonged drought, meaning that food aid from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the Tajik Republic, Iran and Pakistan will not be forthcoming. Pakistan already has 2 million Afghan refugees living in the north of the country.

The FAO report states that while Pakistan and Iran have helped thousands of refugees in previous years, their capacity to help the new influx caused by the fighting “is seriously compromised by the lack of resources”.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has been examining the condition of the refugees arriving in Northern Pakistan. The UNHCR states that there is an increase in the rates of “serious malnutrition” among refugees tested. These tests were carried out in the refugee camps at Killi Faizo, in the district of Qetta, capital of Baluchistan.


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