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UN:  Bombs, Looting Hamper Afghan Relief Efforts - 2001-11-01

The top United Nations relief coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, says new cooperation from Afghanistan's northern neighbors will be helpful, but that delivering and distributing relief supplies in the country remains very difficult.

Meeting with reporters Thursday, Mr. Oshima discussed his recent visits to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. He noted that all three governments offered varying degrees of assistance that will make it easier to ship food and other relief supplies into northern Afghanistan.

However, he said current conditions in Afghanistan are hampering not only the ability to get the supplies in, but also to distribute them to the estimated six million Afghans who depend on outside help for survival.

Mr. Oshima noted the aerial bombing campaign is obviously causing difficulties but that the bombing is not the only problem. "One has to realize also that there is a lot of banditry, the looting of U.N. offices and destruction of our warehouses and the harassment of aid workers is also hampering the delivery of assistance so I think all these things have to be looked at in perspective."

Mr. Oshima said relief supplies are reaching Afghanistan's capital of Kabul, but that there are serious delivery problems in Kandahar and, in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sarif, supplies are running out. He says overall, only about one-third of the relief supplies needed in Afghanistan are now getting through.