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WFP Accelerates Emergency Aid To Flood Stricken Afghanistan


The World Food Program says it is accelerating delivery of emergency relief supplies to thousands of flooding victims in Afghanistan. It says it has so far managed to deliver enough emergency rations to feed 60,000 Afghans, but more people are in need. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

The rains began in mid-March, as is normal for this time of year. But the rains were exceptionally heavy and combined with melting snow to turn the routine into a catastrophe for tens of thousands of Afghans.

A spokesman for the World Food Program, Simon Pluess, says Afghanistan's vice president has declared 13 of the country's 34 provinces as disaster areas because of the extensive damage caused by the flooding.

"The floods, since the beginning of the rains, have claimed dozens of peoples lives, scores of domestic livestock," he said.

"It has destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and washed away tens of thousands of hectares of cultivated land. So, for example, we have 300 kilometers of road that have been washed away that kind of cuts the north and south from Kabul," Pluess added.

WFP estimates 500 homes have been damaged or destroyed and 900 families have been displaced by the flooding in Kabul.

Simon Pluess says while the situation in the capital is serious, more worrying still is the plight of thousands of people who are stranded in remote mountainous regions. He says these areas are beyond immediate help because many of the access roads are cut off by landslides and avalanches.

"It can take quite awhile in this country to get food and other assistance to people that are often far away" said Pluess. "These people, most often, do not only need food. They also need shelter because their houses have been washed away. They need blankets and medicine if they have been hurt."

Pluess says WFP's relief program is running into particular problems in the flooded southern province of Helmand, where there are frequent clashes between insurgents and government and international forces.

The WFP official says trucks carrying food for flood victims often are attacked by what he describes as anti-government elements.

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