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Massive Supplies of Food Aid Needed for Afghanistan - 2002-10-01

A U.S. official is warning that unless more food aid is sent to Afghanistan, many Afghans who recently returned to their country may be forced to leave again. The U.S. official appealed to other countries to fulfill pledges they have made to send aid to Afghanistan.

The Assistant Secretary of State for Refugee and Migration Affairs, Gene Dewey, says Afghans desperately need up to 80,000 tons of food to get through winter and spring.

Mr. Dewey, who was recently in Afghanistan, says if more food is not provided, the consequences for the Afghan people could be disastrous. "The first one could be a flocking of the rural returnees, the refugees who have come back from Pakistan and Iran, back to the cities where they would hope to find help and maybe work, and not finding it there, because the cities are so impacted, they might go back to Pakistan," he said.

Mr. Dewey says the United States has in recent years provided more than 80 percent of the food assistance needed in Afghanistan. He says now is the time for other countries to do their part.

"Psychologically, it would be bad for the U.S. to step up and do any more because, unfortunately, the psychology is that other donors tend to sit back and let the U.S. do it. The burden sharing has got to work better," he said.

Mr. Dewey says to make Afghanistan stable once again the international community must work together to provide its people with the food and security they need.