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Afghanistan Needs `Berlin Airlift’ to Avoid Famine, RUSI Says

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By Ed Johnson

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) — Afghanistan needs urgent international
aid, akin to the Berlin airlift 60 years ago, to stave off the
threat of famine that could see villagers turn against the
government, a London-based defense institute said today.

An estimated 8.4 million Afghans, a quarter of the population,
don’t have enough to eat because of drought and rising food prices
and will depend on emergency supplies to survive this winter, the
Royal United Services Institute said.

Famine poses a greater threat to the country than the spiraling
Taliban insurgency and the international community must “mount an
intensive air operation to deliver life-saving aid,” RUSI analyst
Paul Smyth said in a briefing note.

The U.S-led airlift beginning in 1948 delivered more than 2.3
million metric tons of food, fuel and medicine to West Berlin to
circumvent a Soviet blockade. Planes landed every three minutes in
the effort that lasted 462 days. While the aid operation to
Afghanistan would be smaller, it would be “strategically
significant” and help prevent local frustration and anger against
the government and NATO-led forces, the institute said.

Food shortages are compounding the problems facing President
Hamid Karzai’s government, which is battling Taliban fighters
mainly in the south and east of the country.

The United Nations and the government in Kabul appealed in July
for $400 million to assist vulnerable Afghans in the nation of
almost 33 million people.

`Eating Grass’

“Reports already indicate that Afghans are migrating in search
of food, some are eating grass and a tiny number have died of
starvation,” RUSI said. “Afghanistan may be on the brink of a
calamity which has the potential to undermine much of the progress
which has been achieved there.”

Insurgent attacks on aid convoys compound the food shortages,
RUSI said. “Help must come from farther afield, swiftly, and to
any part of the country,” it said. “An airlift meets these
demands.”

The country needs 25,000 metric tons of supplies before winter
and another 70,000 tons before February 2009, RUSI said, citing
the World Food Programme.

Airlifting such a quantity of aid “should be well within the
international community’s military capacity, if it has the will,”
RUSI said.

The WFP estimates that 24.9 million people in Afghanistan live
below the poverty line. A risk assessment in 2005 found that 6.6
million Afghans don’t meet their minimum food requirements, a
problem compounded by drought this year in the south, east and
southwest of the nation, according to the UN agency.

The country faces a cereal shortfall of 2 million metric tons
and the WFP says it intends to send food assistance to about 1.8
million people each month until next year’s harvest.

The insurgency by supporters of the Taliban regime ousted in
2001 is worsening the humanitarian situation and making the
delivery of aid difficult, according to the UN.

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Written by afghandevnews

November 3, 2008 at 4:36 am

Posted in Food security

Looming Afghan famine potentially jeopardises NATO efforts

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RUSI Briefing Note
http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/RUSIAfghanBriefingNote.pdf
 
A third of Afghans (8.4m) are suffering from food insecurity, and are facing a famine this coming winter; whatever the effect of insurgent violence on the mission in Afghanistan this predictable humanitarian disaster will place a greater obstacle to ISAF’s success, a leading defence and security think-tank warns .
C130 landing Afghanistan
 
A briefing note from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) challenges the will of the international community and calls for nations across the world to mount an intensive air operation in Afghanistan to deliver life-saving aid similar to the Berlin Airlift sixty years ago.
 
A combination of light spring rain, a summer drought, poor irrigation, low crop yields and rising global food prices have created the conditions for a ‘calamitous’ famine in Afghanistan this coming winter. RUSI warns ‘if the international community is found wanting, we can expect increasing frustration and anger from a population which once saw international intervention as a source of hope’.
 
‘To maintain its credibility and moral authority to act in Afghanistan the international community must take timely, concerted and effective action’, writes Paul Smyth, Head of Operational Studies at RUSI.
 
‘Afghanistan may be on the brink of a calamity which has the potential to undermine much of the progress which has been achieved there, especially in areas ostensibly free of insurgent activity.’
 
The briefing note also outlines the fact that many areas vulnerable to famine have reduced or rejected controversial poppy farming; an added irony to this potential humanitarian disaster that seriously jeopardises efforts to create sustainable progress in Afghanistan.
 
In August 2008, the UN World Food programme estimated Afghanistan has an emergency need for 25,000 tonnes of mixed commodities before the coming winter, and a requirement for an additional 70,000 tonnes before February 2009.
 
Drawing comparisons with the Berlin Airlift, which brought food to millions and prevented a strategic defeat during the early Cold War, Smyth suggests a much smaller, yet ‘strategically significant operation’ could have similar effect in Afghanistan.
 
‘The added significance of acting decisively in Afghanistan is that for all the focus on insurgency, a more serious blow will be dealt to the Afghan government and the UN/ISAF mission if the international community does not prevent a predictable humanitarian disaster’ RUSI warns.
 
The RUSI briefing note follows questions about the limits of NATO’s mission and recent attacks on Afghan aid workers. On Tuesday General Sir Michael Rose, writing in the RUSI Journal, warned that security gains in Afghanistan will not endure without greater numbers of soldiers, good governance and swift reconstruction. General Rose also noted there was “a race against time” between the Afghan Government and the Taliban to win the support of the vast bulk of ordinary Afghans who have not taken sides.
Copyright © 2008 RUSI

Written by afghandevnews

November 1, 2008 at 3:43 am

Posted in Food security

Afghanistan Needs `Berlin Airlift’ to Avoid Famine, RUSI Says

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By Ed Johnson

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) — Afghanistan needs urgent international
aid, akin to the Berlin airlift 60 years ago, to stave off the
threat of famine that could see villagers turn against the
government, a London-based defense institute said today.

An estimated 8.4 million Afghans, a quarter of the population,
don’t have enough to eat because of drought and rising food prices
and will depend on emergency supplies to survive this winter, the
Royal United Services Institute said.

Famine poses a greater threat to the country than the spiraling
Taliban insurgency and the international community must “mount an
intensive air operation to deliver life-saving aid,” RUSI analyst
Paul Smyth said in a briefing note.

The U.S-led airlift beginning in 1948 delivered more than 2.3
million metric tons of food, fuel and medicine to West Berlin to
circumvent a Soviet blockade. Planes landed every three minutes in
the effort that lasted 462 days. While the aid operation to
Afghanistan would be smaller, it would be “strategically
significant” and help prevent local frustration and anger against
the government and NATO-led forces, the institute said.

Food shortages are compounding the problems facing President
Hamid Karzai’s government, which is battling Taliban fighters
mainly in the south and east of the country.

The United Nations and the government in Kabul appealed in July
for $400 million to assist vulnerable Afghans in the nation of
almost 33 million people.

`Eating Grass’

“Reports already indicate that Afghans are migrating in search
of food, some are eating grass and a tiny number have died of
starvation,” RUSI said. “Afghanistan may be on the brink of a
calamity which has the potential to undermine much of the progress
which has been achieved there.”

Insurgent attacks on aid convoys compound the food shortages,
RUSI said. “Help must come from farther afield, swiftly, and to
any part of the country,” it said. “An airlift meets these
demands.”

The country needs 25,000 metric tons of supplies before winter
and another 70,000 tons before February 2009, RUSI said, citing
the World Food Programme.

Airlifting such a quantity of aid “should be well within the
international community’s military capacity, if it has the will,”
RUSI said.

The WFP estimates that 24.9 million people in Afghanistan live
below the poverty line. A risk assessment in 2005 found that 6.6
million Afghans don’t meet their minimum food requirements, a
problem compounded by drought this year in the south, east and
southwest of the nation, according to the UN agency.

The country faces a cereal shortfall of 2 million metric tons
and the WFP says it intends to send food assistance to about 1.8
million people each month until next year’s harvest.

The insurgency by supporters of the Taliban regime ousted in
2001 is worsening the humanitarian situation and making the
delivery of aid difficult, according to the UN.

Written by afghandevnews

November 1, 2008 at 3:37 am

Posted in Food security

8 mln U.S. dollars agreement inked to tackle food crisis in Afghanistan

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Xinhua / September 11, 2008

The Afghan government and the World Bank on Thursday signed an agreement under which 8 million U.S. dollars grant will be provided as part of the assisting programs to tackle food crisis in the war-torn country.

“The initiative of the agreement on The Afghanistan Food Crisis Response Project, which is signed by Afghan Finance Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady and World Bank Country Manager Mariam J. Sherman, is to enhance wheat and other cereal production by supporting small scale irrigation at the community level,” said a World Bank statement released here.

“As part of The Bank’s new Global Food Crisis Response Program, the project focuses on medium-term investments needed to increase food security over time,” it said.

“The project will support the rehabilitation of around 500 small, traditional irrigation schemes critical to the recovery of the country’s agriculture,” it said.

The statement also noted that the whole project will be implemented by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development through elected Community Development Councils in the provinces most affected by drought and food shortages.

Nearly 70 percent of Afghanistan’s wheat production comes from irrigated lands, according to the Afghan finance minister.

“It is important that we give priority to the rehabilitation of irrigation systems,” Ahady said.

As a leading lending agency, the World Bank has contributed more than 1 billion U.S. dollars towards rebuilding Afghanistan since 2002, with part of them soft loan.

Written by afghandevnews

September 13, 2008 at 3:21 am

Posted in Aid, Food security

Wheat loan to ease food shortage

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KABUL, 4 September 2008 (IRIN) – The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and government of Pakistan are finalising an agreement involving the loan of 50,000 tonnes of wheat for pre-winter food aid operations in Afghanistan.

Once the agreement is signed, WFP will begin importing the wheat over two months, Susana Rico, WFP’s country representative, said. It will be pre-positioned in vulnerable areas where access is difficult in winter.

The loan will help WFP to remedy immediate funding delays in emergency food aid for about five million Afghans hit by high food prices and drought.

Upon receiving funds from donors WFP will pay the loan back.

Funding delays

UN agencies and the Afghan government jointly appealed on 9 July for US$404 million to deal with the food crisis resulting from high prices and drought.

The joint appeal included WFP’s request for $185 million, which it will use to procure 230,000 tonnes of food to be distributed until August 2009.

The UN has reiterated calls for “vital funding” to avert a possible crisis this winter amid donors’ “slow and insufficient response” to the joint appeal.

WFP said it had received up to 25 percent by 3 September.

Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged 50,000 tonnes of wheat, WFP said.

The American donation “is expected to arrive at port [Pakistan] six to eight weeks from now and a further two to three weeks to arrive at regional hubs in Afghanistan”, Rico said.

WFP said the 100,000 tonnes of wheat would be sufficient for its “winter pre-positioning programme”.

Government wheat procurement

The hike in food prices has prompted Pakistan to impose a ban on food exports to neighbouring Afghanistan, which relies particularly on Pakistani wheat flour.

Earlier this year Pakistan agreed to sell 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the Afghan government to ease its domestic food shortages.

“Over 12,000 tonnes of the wheat procured from Pakistan have been imported to the country and the process is ongoing,” according to a government statement on 2 September.

The imported wheat will be offered at a subsidised price, the government said.

The statement also said separate agreements signed with the Russian Federation and Ukraine would allow the country to import about 80,000 tonnes of wheat.

According to the country’s National Risk and Vulnerability Assessments, 42 percent of the Afghan population (approximately 12 million people) live below the poverty line, on 45 US cents per day or less.

Written by afghandevnews

September 6, 2008 at 9:10 pm

UN calls for “vital funding” to avert humanitarian crisis

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KABUL, 1 September 2008 (IRIN) – The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says donors must provide “vital funding” to enable aid agencies to avert a possible humanitarian crisis this winter.

UN agencies and the Afghan government on 9 July launched a joint appeal for US$404 million to mitigate the impact of high food prices and drought which have forced over five million people into “high risk” food insecurity, but so far donors have only pledged a small fraction of the requested funds, aid workers said.

“It’s vital to see this money comes into Afghanistan… [The funds] will enable us to ensure that current problems do not become a crisis,” Dan McNorton, a spokesman for UNAMA, told IRIN in Kabul on 31 August.

The UN call for urgent funding echoes a warning issued by Oxfam International on 30 August about a possible humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

“This is a race against time, the international community needs to respond quickly before winter when conditions deteriorate. The health of one million young children and half a million women is at serious risk due to malnutrition,” Oxfam said in a statement.

Oxfam warned that if donors fail to respond quickly and sufficiently “people could be forced to sell assets or leave their homes and villages, and there could be a further deterioration of stability.”

The UN said it supported Oxfam’s calls for increased and urgent funding.

Women, children at risk

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said five million people, most of them women and children, have been affected by drought and high food prices and are in need of food aid.

“Hundreds of thousands of children under five years of age and their mothers may not be able to meet their nutritional needs, robbing them of future development opportunities,” said Susana Rico, WFP country representative.

Aid agencies are concerned that worsening food insecurity may reverse the progress made recently on maternal and infant mortality rates: “Infant, child and maternal mortality rates – already some of the world’s highest – could increase even further,” Oxfam said.

One in five children dies before his/her fifth birthday due to malnutrition and preventable and curable diseases, according to the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

Afghanistan suffered one of its worst winters in three decades in 2007 when extremely cold weather, heavy snow, avalanches and lack of access to food and health services took the lives of over 1,000 people, according to statistics from the Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority.

Aid agencies say relief supplies must reach vulnerable rural communities before access becomes problematic in winter.

Written by afghandevnews

September 3, 2008 at 3:01 am

Posted in Aid, Food security

Afghanistan faces desperate winter

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Deutsche Welle / August 30, 2008

The aid agency Oxfam has warned that Afghanistan needs urgent help if it is to avoid a humanitarian disaster this winter. Oxfam called for a “major humanitarian response” in a letter to development ministers around the world. In July, it appealed for just over 400 million dollars to meet the needs of some five million Afghans, but has apparently received only a fifth of the amount. Nearly 1,000 people died last winter in Afghanistan, where about half the population lives under the poverty line.

Archaeologists unearth
Buddha statue’s head in Afghanistan

[ANI] Islamabad, August 30 : French and Afghan archaeologists have unearthed the head of a Buddha statue and a precious coin in the province of Bamiyan in Afghanistan.

The statue’s head belongs to the period when Buddhism thrived in the central province and the coin dates back to the time of Alexander and the Greek empire, according to Najeebullah Ahrar, the director of the information and culture department in the province.

According to a report in Pak Tribune, the team of Afghan and French archaeologists is working under the supervision of Professor Zemaryalai Tarzi, an Afghan archaeologist.

Bamiyan hit world headlines in 2001 when the Taliban destroyed the enormous Buddha statues that for centuries stood in carved niches in the cliff faces around the main town.

The town of Bamiyan is situated on the old Silk Road and became a meeting point of eastern and western cultures.

Buddhism arrived in Bamiyan in the third century with the spread of the Kushan Empire.

Written by afghandevnews

September 3, 2008 at 2:56 am

Posted in Food security