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UN Food Relief Effort Faces Distribution Problems in Afghanistan - 2002-01-08

As part of its ongoing relief efforts in Afghanistan, the United Nations World Food Program has begun distributing food coupons to as many as 340,000 people in the city of Herat.

But there are problems getting relief to the people who need it most. The main concern is in what is referred to as "secondary distribution".

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard says while food and food coupons are getting to Afghanistan, there are difficulties in safeguarding those supplies from looters and thieves. Mr. Eckhard said, "The agencies have managed to get record amounts of food into Afghanistan, but then getting it from those depots to remote villages where it is most needed has not been easy, either because of insecurity in some areas or other factors."

Recently there have been several reports of local warlords interfering with the relief work and at times stealing food.

Mr. Eckhard added there is no current plan by the Security Council to increase protection for the relief deliveries. The current program in Herat aims to distribute more than 2,600 tons of food in 10 days.