Humanitarian Relief Prevents Famine in Afghanistan

According to Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), “There will be no famine in Afghanistan this winter.” This conclusion comes after an infusion of humanitarian food supplies into the country over the past four months. The WFP alone has supplied Afghanistan with 165,000 tons of wheat since September. Most of the food came in December, after the fall of the Taliban regime, allowing aid workers to transport food into Afghanistan more efficiently from neighboring countries. Although widespread famine is no longer expected, many Afghans are still in danger of starvation because of the pre-famine conditions suffered earlier this year. Afghans living in remote areas are also in danger, as food supplies cannot reach many of these areas, and security concerns are also delaying food shipments into parts of the country.

Oxfam America President Raymond C. Offenheiser praised the WFP for its success in deterring famine in Afghanistan, but urged for more diversification in food supplies to ensure greater health. Food shipments have solely consisted of wheat. The WFP requested donations last week for other supplies including corn and beans. Shipments of food are expected to continue until March. Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is planning to send aid to repair irrigation systems throughout the country and ship livestock and seeds into Afghanistan to help rebuild the agricultural system.


Washington Post, 12/31/01

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