One food convoy stopped, another allowed to pass. A split in the Taliban ranks?
Food aid from the World Food Programme (WFP) is not reaching some of its target population because elements within the Taliban have prohibited a convoy from travelling to Heart.
With up to 7.5 million people cut off from regular food supplies, the situation is deteriorating rapidly. Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said yesterday that “At present we only have an extremely limited possibility of helping people inside Afghanistan."
The food convoy, which was travelling from Qetta in Pakistan to heart in Western Afghanistan, was stopped at the border post of Spin Boldak inside Afghanistan by the Taliban militia, who ordered that a tax of 32 USD per tonne be paid. With a load of 475 tons, the WFP did not have the 15,200 USD needed and so the convoy stopped.
Francesco Luna, spokesperson for the WFP, declared in Islamabad that “This is something new for us. We refuse to accept it and we will try to find a solution to the problem."
However, another convoy, with 1,000 tons of food was allowed to complete the journey from Peshawar in Pakistan to Kabul unhindered, giving rise to the speculation that the Taleban are no longer controlled by the same chain of command.
The UNO has claimed that the lives of 7.5 million Afghans will depend on aid programmes this Winter.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL