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UN: Delivering Assistance to Victims in Afghanistan Is Getting Difficult - 2001-09-23


Humanitarian operations in Afghanistan are being run by local Afghans left behind when all foreign aid workers left. The few foreign aid workers left in the country pulled out fearing U-S reprisals for the devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The United Nations says many programs have been reduced or stopped and it is becoming more difficult to maintain life-saving operations. It says no food or other goods are being sent into Afghanistan and relief supplies within the country are rapidly running out.

World Food Program spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume says the agency has 15-thousand-tons of food left in Afghanistan - roughly enough for three-weeks.

/// BERTHIAUME ACT ///

Maybe with a bit of luck, we will be able to stretch that food because of the situation, because of the lack of fuel, because of the lack of trucks, because of lack of staff, we cannot distribute to four million people as we used to do, like we do in normal times. So we are targeting the most vulnerable, the ones we can reach. So, this amount of food may last longer.

/// END ACT ///

Among the most vulnerable are 320-thousand people in the capital, Kabul.

Ms. Berthiaume says W-F-P's national staff is continuing to operate bakeries to supply these people with bread. She says most of the recipients are widows, children, the elderly, and handicapped whose survival depends on outside assistance. She says the agency has only enough flour to keep the bakeries going for three weeks.

/// 2ND BERTHIAUME ACT ///

The state of these people before the event was a catastrophe. With that coming on top, it is really awful. If they stay or go out, the situation is bad for them.

/// END ACT ///

Ms. Berthiaume says the situation is also terrible for hundreds-of-thousands of internally displaced people. She says many women and children among them are already malnourished, and food stocks for them will run out in about two-weeks. To make matters worse, the United Nations notes many shops and bazaars have been closed in Afghanistan, forcing even more people to rely on foreign aid to stay alive. (SIGNED)

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