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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 15:23 GMT
Afghan aid delivery 'unsafe'
WFP food convoy entering Afghanistan from Pakistan
Some 185 tonnes of food were stolen
The United Nations and other aid agencies in Afghanistan say growing lawlessness is hampering their relief efforts.

(Aid security) is not the sole responsibility of the coalition and the coalition at this stage cannot secure every road in Afghanistan

Coalition spokesman Kenton Keith

"Insecurity remains a major hurdle for the distribution of humanitarian aid," said UN spokesman Eric Falt.

On Wednesday, UN premises in Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif were looted, while on Monday a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy carrying 185 tonnes of food was hijacked on its way to Herat.


The trucks bound for Herat were hijacked by "unidentified bandits" and the food distributed to local residents, according to WFP spokesman Khaled Mansour.

The trucks are now believed to be in the Taleban's southern stronghold of Kandahar.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the Jalalabad offices of other agencies had also been robbed, and that radios, vehicles and office equipment were taken.

A spokesman in Islamabad for the US-led coalition against terrorism said on Thursday protection for aid shipments could not yet be guaranteed all over Afghanistan.

"The coalition has assumed responsibility to provide security for the aid," said coalition spokesman Kenton Keith.

"But it is not the sole responsibility of the coalition and the coalition at this stage cannot secure every road in Afghanistan."

Many dangers

The UN's Mr Falt said there were many dangers facing his staff.

Crying refugee child
Six million people in Afghanistan depend on aid

"Our truck drivers are not armed and they are at the mercy of whoever is armed. In a case like that, there is nothing we can do.

"Of course we do rely at the same time on the local authorities to ensure the protection of humanitarian assistance and the protection of these routes," he said.

Aid agencies have called on the United Nations to create a multinational force to ensure the aid can be distributed safely.

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

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

The UN deputy representative for Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, said he 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.

The BBC's Julie Etchingham
"More than six million people are dependent on food aid"
Steve Ashby, Save the Children
"The situation is getting very desperate"
The BBC's Peter Greste
"They need food and they need it now"
See also:

22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan renewal 'will come from within'
21 Nov 01 | South Asia
Agencies call for Afghan peace force
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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