Afghanistan: Attacks on food convoys continue
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||28 May 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Afghanistan: Attacks on food convoys continue, 28 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484400002.html [accessed 29 November 2015]|
KABUL, 28 May 2008 (IRIN) - Unidentified gunmen have hijacked a food convoy in the southern Wardak province, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The convoy of two commercial trucks was carrying 60MT of wheat to the Miramoor district of Daikundi province in central-south Afghanistan.
"The commercial transporters reported that armed men stopped the trucks in Shash Gaw area [on 26 May] and forced the drivers to head up towards Jaghatu district of Wardak province," said Rick Corsino, WFP's representative in Afghanistan.
The hijacked wheat was part of 500MT food aid for 27,000 people in Miramoor who desperately needed the assistance, Corsino said, adding that 233MT had already been sent.
WFP has suspended its food delivery operation to Daikundi. "Soon after we get the green light from UN security, we will continue our assistance. As per our experience of such incidents, it won't take so long," Corsino said.
This was the sixth incident involving WFP food convoys so far this year. More than 30 attacks against commercial vehicles or convoys carrying WFP food were reported last year. About 870MT of food, valued at US$730,000, was lost. In at least four incidents, drivers and Afghan police escorts were either killed or wounded, WFP said.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) in Kabul said that using its volunteers might be one of the ways to minimise the attacks on food convoys.
"We have 41,000 volunteers working for ARCS, who know the geography of their areas and have good contacts with the tribal elders within their respective provinces," said Walid Akbar Sarwari, a spokesman for ARCS in Kabul.
A good relationship with tribal leaders can be instrumental in ensuring safe passage and helps to build a sense of ownership among the beneficiary communities.
"If WFP asks us before sending food convoys to any provinces, we will ask our volunteers to cooperate with WFP," Sarwari added.
Abdul Ali Shahrestani, head of Miramoor district, told IRIN that an unusually cold winter, recent floods and now the drought had badly affected farmers.
"This year the farmers will not be able to get enough harvest from their lands while most of the inhabitants of Miramoor rely on agriculture," Shahrestani said.
Shahrestani added that some of the families did not have a single kilo of wheat flour in their homes. "Nothing has been left for them to eat. If we don't get food aid, a lot of families will be forced to leave their homes and go to other provinces," he said.
Early this year UN agencies and the Afghan government said that a dramatic increase in staple food prices had pushed 1.41 million Afghans in rural areas and 1.14 million in urban areas into high-risk food-insecurity.