The United Nations refugee agency says its first delivery of humanitarian aid from Uzbekistan arrived on Wednesday in northern Afghanistan. The agency says the route across the Uzbek border, which was closed about four years ago when Taleban forces took control of Mazar-e-Sharif, will be key to getting aid into northern Afghanistan.
The UNHCR sent 2,000 blankets from the border port of Termez, Uzbekistan, by barge across the river into northern Afghanistan.
The U.N. children's agency sent winter clothes, and the World Food Program shipped in flour.
UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond says opening the route from Uzbekistan would allow U.N. relief agencies to make regular deliveries of supplies to northern Afghanistan. "This route from Termez to Mazar-e-Sherif will allow us to do that. It's a good road and will allow us to speedily begin deploying a lot more humanitarian aid throughout Afghanistan," said Mr. Redmond.
Mr. Redmond says that the U.N. refugee agency, which is presently working on the borders of Afghanistan, is getting ready to restart activities inside the country.
"We certainly hope it is just a matter of days. But the consent to do that has to come from the U.N. security coordinator's office in New York. They have security people on the ground who do assessments to make sure all the conditions are in place for us to accomplish what we need to do in a fair degree of safety," said the U.N. spokesman.
Mr. Redmond says the UNHCR plans to send 10,000 blankets and 2,000 plastic tarpaulins from Mashad, Iran, to Herat in western Afghanistan on Thursday. He says the UNHCR is in contact with the Northern Alliance about the logistics of getting aid into the country.