Afghanistan

Press conference by Wael Haj-Ibrahim, Representative of UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Afghanistan; Aleem Siddique, Spokesperson, UNAMA Strategic Communication and Spokespersons Unit

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OCHA: It's a real privilege to be here to present the collective efforts of the humanitarian community which consists of course of appropriate government agencies, the UN agencies and programmes and NGOs, whether international or national NGOs

I'd like to start by posing some significant figures to show the scope of work that we have to deal with.

There are about 400,000 Afghans who are seriously affected by natural disasters. There are about 275,000 Internally Displaced People in the country who are in constant need of medical care, food, shelter, protection and other assistance.

There are more than six million people who are in need of assistance to be able to supplement to reach their food requirement.

Now those are significant numbers that without the collective effort of the humanitarian community, the donor community and the Government we would not be able to serve.

This year we estimated the need of about US$ 871 million in total assistance required. And we certainly hope that the international community will provide the assistance needed. At the moment the key issue that is preoccupying all of us is the winter and how we are prepared for the winter season.

For winter, we divide our programme into two parts. One is how to ensure that our normal programme continues during the winter season. And the second part is how do we prepare in case there's an emergency during the winter and how do we respond to it? For natural disasters, the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Agency (ANDMA) is in charge of the overall planning and coordination. It works closely with the support of UN agencies and NGOs.

We have been able to dispatch 80 per cent of the food and assistance required to continue our winter programming, but we do face two major difficulties. One, insecurity continues to disrupt our efforts. Second, is the timely flow of information and whether its needs assessment or resources available to be able to match the two.

Despite great improvement, corruption and malpractices continue to have a negative impact on our ability to serve communities.

This winter we expect that H1N1 could be a problem. The Ministry of Public Health and WHO are expecting to have in place about 550,000 Tamiflu vaccines in preparation for this winter. We expect to see 1.8 million vaccines available in April. We realize that April is far, but there's a worldwide shortage and we're lucky to be able to secure this amount in the time frame we have.

I will give you some details about food. WFP has reported that they were able to supply 800,000 beneficiaries with a total of 30,500 tonnes of food. And depending on the logistics and security in some areas, we've been able to deliver 100 per cent of food, like in Faizabad. In other areas, as a result of insecurity and logistics problems, we were only able to deliver 60 per cent of food, like in Herat.

With respect to non-food items, IOM in partnership with NGOs and the donor community were able to pre-position 15,600 kits. We're about 3,800 kits short of what we anticipate we need, and we continue to work with the donor community to try to mobilize the resources needed. UNHCR and its implementing partners have been able to pre-position assistance for about 30,000 families. Overall, we are in as best situation as we can be, given the security implications, limitations in resources and spending needs.