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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 15:56 GMT
UN warns of aid shortfall
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Annan said the coming winter would hamper convoys
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned that the organisation is distributing only half the aid it had hoped to bring to Afghanistan, and called for a halt to the bombing so that more food could get through.


It would be in our interests to see air action end as soon as possible

Kofi Annan
"We are not meeting our targets. We need around 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes [of food] a month and we are doing only half that," he told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

"Obviously it would be in our interests to see air action end as soon as possible so we can step up deliveries."

Mr Annan made his plea as the UK and Russia said they were launching a joint initiative to transport about 9,000 tonnes of food into north-eastern Afghanistan over the next two months.

Food crisis

International agencies had warned of a food crisis in Afghanistan even before the 11 September terror attacks on the United States, and the subsequent US retaliation against Afghanistan.

Afghan refugee family
Afghans faced hunger even before the attacks on Afghanistan
The country has suffered drought for three years and civil war for decades, putting millions in danger of starvation.

Mr Annan said it was necessary to get food to Afghanistan before the coming winter made it difficult for convoys to travel through the country.

He argued that the bombing of Afghanistan - whose ruling Taleban regime is sheltering Osama Bin Laden, the man Washington has accused of being behind the attacks on the US - was only one part of the war on terrorism.

He said that political, diplomatic and military means were all necessary to defeat terrorism.

He said that the bombing campaign would heighten tensions within the US-led coalition against Bin Laden and the Taleban.

Anglo-Russian aid

Up to 60 convoys will be involved in the joint UK and Russian aid operation for north-eastern Afganistan, which will also involve the UN.

The UK Government is planning to give 600,000 towards the operation from already announced funds.

Local drivers are set to steer the convoy through the region's borders and mountain ranges.

North-eastern Afghanistan is largely controlled by the opposition Northern Alliance.

The mission to deliver the food will be launched over the next two weeks.

See also:

01 Nov 01 | UK Politics
UK and Russian food aid plan
25 Oct 01 | South Asia
Aid warning as supplies run out
17 May 01 | South Asia
US announces Afghan aid package
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