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US Drops Food in Northern Afghanistan - 2001-10-13

The United States made its first aerial drop of food over the north of Afghanistan Saturday. In some areas, people were fighting over the rations.

Thousand of distinctive yellow packages lay for kilometers over the desert of northern Afghanistan near the border with Tajikisan. Each contained a ready-to-eat vegetarian meal, sufficient for a day's rations, of the type issued to American troops. Each was marked "Humanitarian Aid, a gift from the people of the United States."

Hundreds of people from the nearby refugee camps ran up to collect the donated foot, carrying the yellow packages on their heads and wrapped in scarves or in the material of their clothes.

Many people were confused about the food, which included items unfamiliar to Afghans, such as peanut butter and strawberry jam, as well as layers and layers of packaging.

Once they were shown how to eat this pre-packaged food, they declared it to be quite tasty.

The food packages landed over a wide area. In some places people were fighting over them. In other places, farther away from the refugee camps, men with Jeeps and trucks were loading huge quantities of the packages into their vehicles and guarding them with guns. They said they were planning to distribute this food aid, but with aid dropped in this way by planes, it is difficult to police the distribution and insure it reaches the right people.