The United Nations says more than 3 million people in Afghanistan are at severe humanitarian risk. The U.N. announced it has secured the agreement of Afghanistan's three northern neighbors to facilitate its humanitarian operations in the country. U.N. Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima described the situation in Afghanistan as a "humanitarian crisis in the making."

He was speaking during a visit to central Asia, following meetings with the presidents of Afghanistan's three northern neighbors, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Mr. Oshima said that all three countries recognized the severity of the situation. They agreed to help the United Nations send humanitarian equipment and personnel to Afghanistan, clearing access by air, road and river.

Speaking in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, Mr. Oshima said the United Nations would not ignore the plight of the rest of central Asia, which is also suffering from a devastating drought. He said that he had visited areas in southern Tajikistan and had been shocked by what he saw, including people struggling to prepare for winter, and malnourished children.

But Mr. Oshima conceded that although the United Nations had dedicated almost 8 million dollars to Tajikistan this year, less than half of this sum had actually reached the region.