Afghanistan, impenetrable as the burqah which shields the faces of its womenfolk, is hiding a potential humanitarian catastrophe of gargantuan proportions.
It is believed by United Nations aid agencies that up to 7.5 million people are stranded inside Afghanistan without food. With the severe winter approaching and with crops unharvested in large parts of the country, these people are faced by three ordeals: they do not have food to eat on a daily basis, they do not have harvested crops stored for the winter and they do not have seeds to plant for next year’s crop.
The US food aid programme has seen 110,000 food parcels dropped. UN aid agencies claim that since these are unloaded indiscriminately, there is no guarantee that they will reach those most in need. Many food aid packets fall in heavily mined areas or on inaccessible mountain passes. Some agencies have called for a halt in the military operations so that large quantities of food can be transported to the critical areas.
Last night’s bombing raid caused 140 civilian casualties, according to the Taleban: 100 in the northern cities of Mazar-i-Sharif, Konduz and Shebergam, 15 in Jalalabad and 25 in the attacks on Kandahar and Kabul.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL
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