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UN agencies race to assist Afghans in dire need

With the onset of winter, UN agencies race to assist Afghans in dire need of aid

5 November – With snow reported in parts of Afghanistan, United Nations aid agencies and their partners are racing to provide food and other relief supplies to vulnerable people in desperate need of assistance, UN officials said today.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is working hard to preposition food in areas that will be cut off by snow in a couple of weeks, agency spokesperson Lindsey Davies told reporters in Islamabad. With one metre of snow reported in the Anjuman pass leading to the Panshir Valley, "trucks are still able to operate, but the fear is that with worsening conditions, the window of time for them to operate unimpeded is closing," she said.

For the first time in the history of its emergency efforts in Afghanistan, the agency has hired a so-called "harsh environment" expert from Canada to help establish a logistics base camp near the tip of the Anjuman pass to keep it open as long as possible.

Among other efforts, WFP today dispatched 55 commercial trucks carrying some 550 tonnes of food to deliver food supplies to northeast Afghanistan and the Panshir Valley. Plans are under way to airdrop food to areas affected by snow. The airdropped packages are snow-proof and coloured black so that they will easily be seen.

Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it has received unconfirmed reports from the Iranian Red Crescent Society that some 3,000 Afghans are living out in the open near the Makaki camp on the Afghan side of the border in Nimroz province. When they arrived at Makaki, they were given some food and other assistance, but were not admitted to the camp filled to capacity.

In a related development, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced that its national staff members have started an assessment in the eastern region of Afghanistan, following reports that an estimated 40,000 internally displaced persons have recently arrived in the region from Kabul, Jalalabad City and villages of Nangarhar Province. "The assessment will verify the reports and ascertain areas of concentration," said UNICEF spokesperson Chulho Hyun.


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