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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 11:17 GMT
Agencies call for Afghan peace force
Afghan refugee children
Six million people in Afghanistan depend on aid
Susannah Price

Aid agencies are calling for the United Nations to organise a multinational force for Afghanistan to restore stability as soon as possible.

The non-governmental organisations - including Save the Children, Refugees International and Mercy Corps - say this would ensure the ongoing delivery of urgently-needed food.

The NGOs are due to make a formal announcement in Washington later on Wednesday.

Food is now getting into Afghanistan but aid agencies are finding it difficult to move it to remote areas.

Crying refugee child
People in remote areas need food
They are worried about the plight of those in the remote northern provinces and in the central highlands.

Afghanistan has suffered from a three-year long drought and six million people depend on aid.

The agencies say the main obstacle to transporting supplies is not the winter weather or the terrain but the lack of stability.

UN not keen

A spokesman for Refugees International said they wanted a multinational force sanctioned by the UN to go into Afghanistan as soon as possible to establish order there.

He said many countries were apparently willing to take part and it could be set up quickly.

This would not be the same as a peacekeeping force and would operate in areas where there was the greatest need.

The spokesman said they were also increasingly concerned about the plight of thousands of people displaced by the bombardments who had fled their homes and were living in tents or out in the open.

The UN has never sounded keen on sending in any kind of force.

The deputy representative for Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, said they backed the idea of a multinational force going to Afghanistan but that it should be a coalition of the willing, organised by one country and not by the UN.

See also:

20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Food aid heads for Kabul
15 Nov 01 | South Asia
UN aid shipment reaches Afghanistan
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghanistan's huge rebuilding task
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