WFP cranks up emergency relief for Afghan flood victims, delivering enough to feed 60,000 people

Published on 04 May 2007

Within hours of the first reports of devastating spring floods reaching the Afghan capital, WFP accelerated relief plans that by today have managed to deliver 1,000 tonnes of emergency rations, enough to feed 60,000 victims of the rising waters for 30 days.

Within hours of the first reports of devastating spring floods reaching the Afghan capital, WFP accelerated relief plans that by today have managed to deliver 1,000 tonnes of emergency rations, enough to feed 60,000 victims of the rising waters for 30 days.

We don’t have a lot of time to waste

WFP Afghanistan Country Director Rick Corsino

Despite the effort, WFP remains concerned about the fate of many who may be beyond the reach of immediate help, stranded in remote, sometimes war-torn, mountainous regions cut off by the destruction of access roads and subsequent landslides and avalanches.

“We don’t have a lot of time to waste,” said WFP Afghanistan Country Director Rick Corsino. “It can take quite a while in this country to get food and other assistance to affected people and there are many in desperate need of food, shelter, blankets and medicine.”

Clashes

WFP’s relief effort is further complicated in the flooded southern province of Helmand, where security is a major concern as a result of frequent clashes between insurgents and Government and international forces.

Reaching flood victims in such areas has become a huge challenge as trucks carrying WFP food arefrequently attacked by anti-government elements.

The heavy rains, aggravated by rapidly melting winter snows, have cut 300 kms of roads, including the major highways linking Kabul with both the north and the south of the country.

Lives lost

Since the rains began in mid-March, the floods have claimed the lives of dozens of people and scores of domestic livestock, destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and washed away tens of thousands of hectares of cultivated land.

Worst hit have been the central provinces of Kabul Uruzgan, Parwan and Day Kundi; the western provinces of Ghor, Badghis and Herat; the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar; the southeastern province of Khost and Paktiya; and, in the south, Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

Kabul city was also heavily affected with 500 homes damaged or destroyed, 900 families displaced and a further 1,700 at imminent risk of being forced to flee.

Disaster area

Afghanistan’s Vice President has declared 13 of the country’s 34 provinces as disaster areas because of the damage.

WFP’s assistance is part of a coordinated relief effort that includes several Government ministries, UN agencies, NGOs and the international military. “The collaboration has been excellent,” said Corsino.

“We have been working very well together to quickly assess the real needs and deliver as much help as we can, and as fast as we can, to those who need it most,” he said.

While the rains continue to fall in parts of the country, the full toll of death and destruction is still under review by Joint Emergency Assessment Teams, which includes Government ministries, WFP, other UN agencies, the Afghan Red Crescent and Provincial Construction Teams (PRTs).