International aid agencies have called on the anti-terrorism alliance to cease the military operations in Afghanistan so that food can reach those in need before it is too late.
After the store of the International Committee of the Red Cross was destroyed by a bomb on October 16th, an attack in which important stocks of food were destroyed, a group of Non-Government organisations (NGOs) have called on the USA and UK to halt the bombing so that food can be taken to the areas most in need within the next 30 days. After November 15th, it is claimed, food stocks will be at rupture point in many areas.
A joint declaration in Islamabad by the NGOs (Oxfam international, Christian Aid, Action Aid and Islamic Relief) called for “a pause in all military action so that the World Food Programme (WFP) and other agencies can deliver as much food as possible before the Winter makes some areas inaccessible”.
Oxfam spokesperson Raymond Offenheiser said that the situation in Afghanistan is too dangerous for international aid workers to operate, due to the bombing and missile attacks. “It has become evident that we cannot take food to the starving people in Afghanistan in reasonable conditions of security”, he said.
There are believed to be 7.5 million people trapped inside Afghanistan in a precarious situation and of these, 400,000 in critical danger of starvation.
On Monday night, a bomb fell within 500 metres of another food store used by the WFP as food was being unloaded from Oxfam lorries containing 250 tonnes of supplies. A Red Cross spokesperson in Kabul said that both buildings were clearly identified with a red cross which would have been visible from the air.
It would augur well for those controlling the “Infinite Justice” operation to instruct their pilots that a red cross means humanitarian aid programmes for civilians, not a target to be hit.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL
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