WFP announced today that some food assistance deliveries have resumed along the southern ring road in Afghanistan, after insecurity forced the suspension of movements by WFP-contracted trucks in late May.
Some 100,000 very poor Afghans have been waiting weeks for food
WFP Afghanistan Country Director Rick Corsino
“While there are still major problems, getting trucks moving again along the major ring road is an important breakthrough for our operations, particularly in the western region where WFP has been unable to distribute promised food to tens of thousands,” said WFP Afghanistan Country Director Rick Corsino.
“Some 100,000 very poor Afghans have been waiting weeks for food – this will bring very welcome relief,” he said.
Between 4 July and 9 July, 280 metric tons of WFP food were transported from Kandahar to Hirat, which has been suffering from an increasing shortage of stocks since shipments were suspended on May 28 due to attacks on vehicles along the southern ring road.
Food for vulnerable families, including many recently deported from Iran, in Hirat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor began to run out with the break in supply.
They include 65,000 people who carry out community work in exchange for food, and 55,000 enrolled in vocational and literacy courses under food-for-training schemes.
Also affected were some 4,000 tuberculosis patients who receive rations as an incentive to continue their treatment. Despite the resumption of truck movements, security problems remain.
Four WFP-contracted commercial trucks under armed escort were attacked on the road linking Nimroz province in south-western Afghanistan on 6 July.
Unknown assailants attacked the convoy on the road to Khashrod District and a clash ensued. Two police officers and thirteen assailants are reported to have died. A driver and his helper were held hostage for two days, and an estimated 40 tons of food was lost.
Insecurity on the southern ring road has also stopped shipments in the opposite direction – from Hirat to southern and eastern Afghanistan. WFP has been unable to move 1,200 tons of biscuits, which arrived via Iran, leaving 940,000 children without their daily in-class snack.
However, other operations in the west continued largely uninterrupted. Food aid has been provided since late April to 1,500 Afghan families deported from Iran. School students also continued to receive their daily rations of biscuits.
Return to normal
“We are planning to gradually increase movements along the southern ring road as long as the security conditions remain acceptable and our transporters feel confident of their safety,” said Corsino.
“We want to get back to normal operations as quickly as possible, where 1,500 to 2,000 tons is shipped along the road each week.”
Insecurity in many parts of Afghanistan, where WFP aims to provide 520,000 metric tons of food to 6.6 million Afghans, presents a major obstacle to humanitarian deliveries. Since June 2006, there have been 26 incidents involving trucks carrying WFP food, which has threatened projects in parts of western, southern and eastern Afghanistan.