Afghanistan

WFP condemns attacks on trucks carrying food aid in Afghanistan

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KABUL - The United Nations World Food Programme today condemned a series of armed attacks and looting of WFP food trucks, mainly in the south and west of Afghanistan and said it is working with the authorities to step up security measures. The attacks have resulted in the loss of more than 500 tonnes of food aid valued at US$ 350,000.

The most recent attack was on Wednesday, the 20th such incident in the last 12 months involving trucks carrying food to several provinces including Zabul, Kandahar and Nimroz in the south, Farah and Herat in the west and Ghazni and Paktya in the southeast. The greatest concern is over the increasing incidence of such attacks, with eight taking place since the beginning of April.

The costliest attacks have taken place along the main road from the border with Pakistan at Spin Boldak, through Kandahar to Herat and adjoining provinces. The long and exposed desert stretches in Farah province have been especially risky. This year, more than one-third of all the food WFP plans to distribute in the country must pass along the southern and western stretches of this road.

"Attacks and lootings are delaying shipments and increasing the cost of delivering food aid to the west and southwest of the country, including to Afghans recently deported from Iran," said Rick Corsino, WFP Representative in Afghanistan.

"Those carrying out the attacks should be held accountable, if not by law, then at least by those communities for whom they are depriving food. Whatever their motives, they are contributing to the already considerable hardship of the poorest Afghans who need assistance more than ever," Corsino added.

Two of the attacks, in October and April, resulted in the death of a member of the truck crew. Transporters are now more and more reluctant to carry food on this route until they receive assurances of better security. While the Afghan government has expressed its willingness to improve security, the long, sparsely populated stretches of road make this hard to carry out.

Nonetheless, WFP continues working with authorities in the riskiest provinces and districts to strengthen security measures. Food recipient communities are also being more actively engaged to secure food shipments, even to those areas largely inaccessible to humanitarian workers.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: on average, each year, we give food to 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP - We Feed People.

WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=999.

WFP now has a dedicated ISDN line in Italy for quality two-way interviews with WFP officials.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Ebadullah Ebadi, WFP/Kabul, Cell +93 797 66 2014 or +93 700 27 8593
Brenda Barton, Deputy Director Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602, Cell. +39-3472582217 (ISDN line available)
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44-20-72409001, Cell. +44-7968-008474
Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304
Cécile Sportis, WFP/Paris, Tel. +33-1-70385330, Cell. +33-6161-68266
Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-212-9635196, Cell. +1-646-8241112, luescher@un.org