Humanitarian Aid Will Help Relieve Refugee Exodus

Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu announced at a Friday meeting with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that deliveries of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan would help to relieve the large-scale flow of refugees from this country. According to him, "the consolidation of our efforts will serve to strengthen stability in the region." Shoigu stressed that time was running out due to the unfolding events in Afghanistan and the region's nations had to coordinate their efforts. The minister said that Russia had drawn up a presidentially approved plan of action, which included a whole range of measures to give emergency and humanitarian aid to the population of Afghanistan. He said that this plan was already being implemented as part of the international aid effort. Seven flights have been made by Russian Il-76 planes, which transported more than 170 tonnes of various humanitarian loads to Dushanbe and Kulyab in Tajikistan. The Afghan government had requested these cargos. The Tajik Emergencies Ministry supported the transfer of these loads to the refugees committee set up by the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani. Russia, Shoigu said, had already launched the second stage of its operation to render humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. The minister proposed that a "Russia-Afghanistan" bridge be set up, so that deliveries could be made by transport units of Russia's emergency relief team, as well as a multi-national task forces which could be formed in the near future.

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