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AFGHANISTAN: Blocked roads threaten food security

KABUL, 27 December 2007 (IRIN) - Heavy snowfall has blocked roads to at least 10 districts in Badakhshan Province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monshi Abdul Majid, the governor of Badakhshan, told IRIN on 27 December.

About 200,000 people are estimated to be living in the affected area, many of them in need of food assistance, Majid said.

“Roads to over 15 of Badakhshan’s 27 districts naturally become blocked from December to April every year,” Majid said.

Home to the famous Hindu Kush mountains and the Wakhan Corridor, Badakhshan has a rugged terrain and a poor road network.

To avert a possible humanitarian crisis during the winter of 2007-2008, the government of Afghanistan, backed by international aid agencies, pre-positioned food and non-food relief in 18 vulnerable provinces across the country.

About 22,000 metric tonnes (mt) of mixed food items have either been stocked or distributed in Badakhshan Province to meet the food requirements of people from December 2007 to March 2008, said Ebadullah Ebadi, a spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Kabul.

However, the governor of Badakhshan said only 14,000 mt of wheat aid had reached vulnerable communities.

“The allocated wheat aid is not sufficient,” said Majid, adding that many people in the province were in urgent need of food aid.

“We are very concerned about the food insecurity of over 80,000 people in isolated districts who we believe will not receive aid this winter,” Majid said.

Many people in areas which remain cut-off during the winter months, also suffer from a widespread lack of health services, provincial officials said.

Landslide in Bamyan

Meanwhile, in Bamyan Province in the central highlands, a landslide blocked a major road leading to Kehmard District.

As a result, the prices of food items, coal and fuel have increased in local markets causing a sense of uncertainty among the estimated 40,000 residents, said Kehmard District Administrator Abdul Khaliq Saliq.

A provincial emergency response commission comprised of several government departments, the UN, and aid agencies held a meeting in Bamyan city on 26 December to identify ways of re-opening the road to Kehmard District.

Mohammad Ewaz Nazari, Bamyan’s police chief, said several gigantic rocks had slipped from a nearby mountain and blocked the road to traffic.

“In the provincial government we do not have the capacity to remove those rocks from the road,” Nazari told IRIN on the phone. He said a New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team had agreed to dynamite the rocks and reopen the road in the near future.


Theme(s): (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Natural Disasters



Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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