The United Nations World Food Programme today condemned a series of armed attacks and looting of WFP food trucks, mainly in the south and west of Afghanistan and said it is working with the authorities to step up security measures. The attacks have resulted in the loss of more than 500 tonnes of food aid valued at US$ 350,000.
The most recent attack was on Wednesday, the 20th such incident in the last 12 months involving trucks carrying food to several provinces including Zabul, Kandahar and Nimroz in the south, Farah and Herat in the west and Ghazni and Paktya in the southeast.
They are contributing to the already considerable hardship of the poorest Afghans
Rick Corsino, WFP Representative
The greatest concern is over the increasing incidence of such attacks, with eight taking place since the beginning of April.
The costliest attacks have taken place along the main road from the border with Pakistan at Spin Boldak, through Kandahar to Herat and adjoining provinces. The long and exposed desert stretches in Farah province have been especially risky.
This year, more than one-third of all the food WFP plans to distribute in the country must pass along the southern and western stretches of this road.
“Attacks and lootings are delaying shipments and increasing the cost of delivering food aid to the west and southwest of the country, including to Afghans recently deported from Iran,” said Rick Corsino, WFP Representative in Afghanistan.
“Those carrying out the attacks should be held accountable, if not by law, then at least by those communities for whom they are depriving food. Whatever their motives, they are contributing to the already considerable hardship of the poorest Afghans who need assistance more than ever,” Corsino added
Two of the attacks, in October and April, resulted in the death of a member of the truck crew. Transporters are now more and more reluctant to carry food on this route until they receive assurances of better security.
While the Afghan government has expressed its willingness to improve security, the long, sparsely populated stretches of road make this hard to carry out.
Nonetheless, WFP continues working with authorities in the riskiest provinces and districts to strengthen security measures.
Food recipient communities are also being more actively engaged to secure food shipments, even to those areas largely inaccessible to humanitarian workers.