WFP Says Life-Saving Aid to Afghanistan Almost Exhausted
The World Food Program (WFP) on Monday said resources for its "regular life-saving activities" in drought-hit Afghanistan could be exhausted in two or three months.
"The effects of two years of drought are now really beginning to bite," WFP Regional Manager Mike Sackett said.
"The WFP has a significant role to play in preventing large-scale migration to already over-stretched urban areas such as Kabul and Herat, or to neighboring Pakistan and Iran."
The United Nations estimates more than half the Afghan population of some 22 million -- most of whom are directly dependent on agriculture -- have been affected by the crippling drought, up to four million severely.
Sackett said donors had responded to a recent urgent drought appeal to help feed the hungry, but food assistance for other projects had almost completely dried up.
Officials have warned of possible widespread famine around May next year when village stores run out.
"Food aid is not like other assistance because it takes several months from the time it is approved in the foreign capitals to when it is in Afghans' mouths," Sackett told AFP.
A WFP statement said its life-saving activities, such as bakeries in the capital Kabul which feed 360,000 people every day, "are threatened by an impending exhaustion of resources in two to three months time."
It said 60,000 tons of wheat arrived Monday from the United States, enough for three months of emergency drought relief schemes but still well short of the impoverished country's total food aid needs.
US sanctions imposed last year against the ruling Taliban militia do not affect humanitarian assistance.
Washington and Moscow are pushing for more non-humanitarian sanctions such as an arms embargo against the Taliban, who refuse to hand over indicted terrorist Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban are also blamed for spreading drugs and Islamic militancy throughout the Central Asian region -- ISLAMABAD (AFP)
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