As the United States launched military strikes in Afghanistan yesterday in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. military planes dropped food packages into remote areas of Afghanistan providing sustenance to the starving Afghan people. The air drops contained 37,500 rations, or meals representing daily caloric intake, but some 7.5 million are in desperate need of food or are in pre-famine conditions within Afghanistan and in refugee areas outside of Afghanistan. Causing further concern is the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which halted shipments of food into Afghanistan following the military strikes. The WFP hopes to resume sending food convoys as soon as possible.
The United Nations is also urging Pakistan to help establish more refugee camps further inland closer to water supplies. The U.N. estimates that an additional 1.5 million Afghans may attempt to leave the country in the wake of U.S. military action. Currently, there are already 3.5 million refugees in Pakistan, 1.5 million in Iran, and at least 200,000 in other neighboring countries. Seventy-five percent of refugees are women and children.
The Feminist Majority has been leading the drive for more humanitarian aid. President Bush pledged a $320 million Afghan humanitarian aid package, but more aid is necessary to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis among displaced Afghans and refugees as they are desperate for food, water, and medical supplies. To learn more about how you can help Afghans in crisis, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.