A top United Nations official says speed is essential if starvation is to be avoided in Afghanistan this winter.

U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima says he is alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation inside Afghanistan. "The situation generally is a very alarming one," he said. "As the winter approaches the delivery activities will clearly become much more problematic. We have four to five weeks left before the onset of winter so we really need to accelerate delivery activities and we are trying all means available to us including, at a later stage perhaps, the possibility of air drops."

Mr. Oshima, who spoke to reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council, said aid workers must move quickly and be innovative in devising ways to bring supplies into Afghanistan. The current military operations by Britain and the United States mean that no truck drivers are willing to transport supplies into the country.

Another U.N. official said there is now no coordination between U.N. relief efforts in Afghanistan and the U.S. airdrops of food and medical supplies. However U.N. relief supervisor Carolyn McAskie told reporters she is hopeful that such coordination will be possible in the future.