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Afghanistan's Food Woes

Attack Would Worsen Afghan Food Crisis

Eighty-Five Percent Of Population Depends On Agriculture For Survival Food Aid Stocks Enough To Feed 3.5 Million People For Only 2 Weeks

ROME, Sept. 20, 2001 CBS (Reuters) A food crisis in Afghanistan could worsen if the threat of military action materializes following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the United Nations world food body said Thursday.

Millions of Afghans have already been displaced by 20 years of war, economic ruin, and a severe drought in a country where some 85 percent of the population depends on agriculture for survival.

"An already grave food crisis in Afghanistan caused by prolonged drought and civil strife can be expected to worsen if the threat of military action materializes," the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a special alert.

The U.S. military has been ordered to deploy for possible operations in and around the Middle East in response to the attacks on America.

"Recent estimates put the number of vulnerable people inside Afghanistan at about 6 million, nearly one quarter of the population," FAO said, referring to people severely threatened by food shortages.

At least 1 million Afghans face starvation if the U.N. World Food Program, the main food aid agency in Afghanistan, cannot return evacuated staff to the country and resume its normal operations there, a spokesman said in Islamabad.

The evacuation last week of international U.N. staff from Afghanistan will seriously impair food security, FAO said.

"The emergency relief operations are likely to come to a virtual halt," it added.

WFP estimates that food aid stocks remaining in Afghanistan, now being distributed by local staff, are enough to feed 3.5 million people for just two weeks.

Crucial humanitarian programs such as bakeries that feed more than 300,000 vulnerable people in the capital Kabul are likely to be seriously affected.

FAO warned that the displacement of people across the borders would put a considerable strain on the economies of neighboring countries, particularly Pakistan and Iran.

"These countries are already hosting a total of some 3.5 million Afghan refugees," FAO said.

The organization said it expected the number of internally displaced people to reach 1 million in the coming few months.

The closure of borders with neighboring countries and the unwillingness of trucking companies to enter Afghanistan threaten to seriously disrupt food distribution and marketing.

The fertilizer supplies of Afghanistan, which are mainly covered by imports from Pakistan, Iran and Turkmenistan, will also be affected resulting in significant cuts in food output.

"These factors would further accentuate the dwindling food supplies and have serious repercussions in the coming harsh winter months," FAO said.

"The issue of life-saving will pose a serious challenge to the international community in the coming months.",1597,311954-412,00.shtml

-- Martin Thompson (, September 21, 2001


It appears they have a lot of incentive to give up Osoma and his boys, doesn't it?

-- Uncle Fred (, September 21, 2001.

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