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Sunday, 28 October, 2001, 22:32 GMT
Radio warns Afghans over food parcels
The United States is seeking to avert further criticism over the use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan by warning the Afghan people not to confuse unexploded bombs with food drops.


Do not confuse the cylinder-shaped bomb with the rectangular food bag

US Psy-ops radio
Embarrassingly, the bombs' yellow casing means that from a distance they are hard to distinguish from the emergency food parcels wrapped in yellow plastic that US planes have been dropping over the last few weeks.

US psychological operations (Psy-ops) radio broadcast a message seeking to reassure the Afghan people that the possibility of confusing the two was minimal, as bombs and food parcels were not being dropped in the same areas and most bombs would explode on impact with the ground.

Food parcels destined for Afghanistan
The rectangular ones are safe to approach
However, it said that people should still be aware of the difference in appearance.

"Attention, noble Afghan people," the message - which was broadcast in Dari and Pashto - began.

"As you know, the coalition countries have been air-dropping daily humanitarian rations for you," it continued.

"The food ration is enclosed in yellow plastic bags. They come in the shape of rectangular or long squares. The food inside the bags is Halal and very nutritional.

"In areas away from where food has been dropped, cluster bombs will also be dropped. The colour of these bombs is also yellow.


We do not wish to see an innocent civilian mistake the bombs for food bags

US Psy-ops radio
"All bombs will explode when they hit the ground, but in some special circumstances some of the bombs will not explode.

"The cluster bombs are 6 cm in diameter and 16 cm in length and they are cylindrical in shape.

"Of course in future cluster bombs will not be dropped in areas where food is air-dropped.

"However, we do not wish to see an innocent civilian mistake the bombs for food bags and take it away believing that it might contain food."

Shape matters

The radio urged its listeners to exercise special caution when approaching yellow-coloured objects, especially in areas where bombs had already fallen.

"We would like you to take extra care and not to touch yellow-coloured objects thinking that they might be food bags.

"This issue is highly important, especially in areas where bombs have been dropped. You should not forget and take additional care. Do not confuse the cylinder-shaped bomb with the rectangular food bag," the message concluded.

Earlier in the week, the Psy-Ops radio had broadcast detailed instructions on how to eat the items contained in the drops - explaining that the butter should be taken out of its packet and spread on bread - and Taleban radio had countered by accusing the US of dropping food packages "in areas full of land mines".

On Saturday, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press Agency (AIP) reported that supporters of the deposed Afghan King, Zahir Shah, had been distributing leaflets in the south of Afghanistan calling on people to reject the Taleban and Osama Bin Laden.

The leaflets also sought to reassure the Afghan people that America would not attack them.

"The Americans have not set out to be our enemy. We assure you that the Americans will never carry out an attack against you," they said, according to AIP.

"Osama and his supporters did not come at the invitation of the Afghans. Therefore Osama has never been a guest of the Afghans. Do not unwarrantedly bind Osama to you at the behest of others.

"Separate yourselves as soon as possible from the Taleban and refrain honestly from supporting them," they urged.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tom Heap
"The aid agencies are trying to step up delivery"
US Psy-Ops radio cluster bomb warning
"Attention, noble Afghan people"
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