UN to deliver 100,000 tons of food aid to Afghanistan via Iran
The World Food Programme (WFP) is to deliver 100,000 tons of food aid to Afghanistan via Iran by the end of December, notably wheat from the United States, an official of the UN agency said Tuesday, December 11. Marius de Gaay Fortman, the WFP representative in Iran, told AFP that 45,000 tons of US wheat has arrived at Iran's Gulf port of Bandar Abbas and another 20,000 tons at Chah Badar, on the Gulf of Oman, since November 27.
Although Tehran and Washington do not have diplomatic ties, Iran has agreed to the transit of American aid to the Afghan people hit by the conflict between a US-led coalition and prime terror suspect Osama Bin Laden. But it has turned down US offers of help to Afghan refugees living in camps inside Iran, according to sources close to the United Nations.
Diplomatic sources said the campaign now under way, however, still amounts to the largest humanitarian operation undertaken jointly by Iran and the United States. Apart from the US goods which have been unloaded and await transportation in truck convoys, a consignment of 15,000 tons of French wheat is expected in Bandar Abbas and 2,800 tons of British wheat has reached Bandar Khomeini.
The 100,000-ton total package destined for western and northern Afghanistan will include wheat and food products which the WFP is collecting from Iran itself. It will be delivered by road convoys and train to Mashhad, northeast Iran, and then on to Herat in western Afghanistan or via Turkmenistan to the north. The WFP is also distributing daily food rations to 2,400 Afghan refugees not housed, due to shortage of space, at the Makaki and Mile 46 camps set up by the Iranian Red Crescent just inside Afghanistan on the border with Iran.
A total of 10,000 refugees are crammed into the two camps and children are dying from the cold. The United Nations says six million Afghans out of an estimated 21 million population are in need of international aid due to more than two decades of war and three years of drought, a plight worsened by the current conflict. — (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)