The first humanitarian shipment to Afghanistan since the terror attacks against the United States has left the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.
A 25-truck convoy carrying children's winter clothing, food supplements, medicine, and blankets is headed for Chitral in the far north of the country. The supplies, from the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), will then be loaded onto four thousand donkeys for a four-day journey across rugged moutains into Afghanistan. Some 500 porters will also take part in the operation.
The shipment's final destination is people in the opposition-controlled province of Badakhshan in northwestern Afghanistan.
The U.N. World Food Program (W-F-P), meantime, began an emergency food airlift Friday in anticipation of more than one million refugees fleeing a possible U.S. attack on Afghanistan.
The W-F-P has sent two planes, each carrying 50 tons of high energy biscuits from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Drindisi, Italy, to Peshawar in anticipation of a refugee influx.
According to U-N estimates, more than seven million Afghans are currently in need of urgent help, and more than one million more could become refugees in neighboring countries in the event of a U-S attack.
The WFP is already feeding more than 100-thousand Afghan refugees in Pakistan and one million inside Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been ravaged by 23 years of conflict, as well as the worst drought in more than three decades.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked for 584-million dollars to aid Afghans facing what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.