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3 February 2009

John Holmes, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, today launched the Humanitarian Action Plan to help vulnerable people in Afghanistan in 2009. Following the launch, he briefed journalists at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. He was accompanied by Nesar Popal, Advisor to the Presidency of Afghanistan, and Bo Asplund, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. [...] Answering a question on whether the explosion of a bridge in the Khyber Pass would affect humanitarian routes and the expanded assistance plans, Mr. Holmes said insecurity was a huge problem, especially for the population, but for humanitarian organizations it was a problem in terms of access of delivery. There were large areas that were extremely difficult to access, in particular for international United Nations staff and NGOs, due to the security situation. NGOs in particular had suffered grievously from insecurity in 2008 - 28 NGO workers were killed, and 72 had been abducted. United Nations agencies had suffered less, but had nevertheless had workers killed, wounded and abducted. Operations within the country continued. The World Food Programme was still able to move food around the country, and had done an amazing job in pre-positioning food supplies before the winter made moving food difficult.


2 February 2009

Prompt distribution of food aid, improved coordination among aid agencies and a relatively mild winter have prevented mass displacements in the drought-stricken northern provinces of Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said. "This year there was, in general, much better coordination between relevant government bodies and UN agencies, particularly with WFP [UN World Food Programme] as a key player. The other factor that really matters is that people in the areas most affected by drought are not facing such a harsh winter as last year," Dusan Vukotic, an ICRC official in Kabul, told IRIN.


22 January 2009

[...] Let me suggest a truly audacious hope for your administration [Mr. President]: How about a five-year time-out on war -- unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation? During that interval, we could work with the U.N. World Food Program, plus the overseas arms of the churches, synagogues, mosques and other volunteer agencies to provide a nutritious lunch every day for every school-age child in Afghanistan and other poor countries.