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by Sonali K. Friday, Oct. 26, 2001 at 12:30 AM

Hundreds of thousands will starve if not helped by mid-November

Afghan Women's Mission 

Pasadena, CA 91101


fax: (509)756-2236

For Immediate Release


Contact: Martha J. Heil, (626) 396-1870 or



Hundreds of thousands will starve if not helped by mid-November

The Afghan Women's Mission calls upon the government of the United States

to immediately suspend military air strikes on Afghanistan in order to

allow convoys to deliver food and medicines to millions of Afghans before

winter sets in.

"Hundreds of thousands of Afghans are on the verge of starving to death.

We cannot look the other way," said Sonali Kolhatkar, Vice President of

the Afghan Women's Mission.

The Mission joins Oxfam International, Islamic Relief, and other

consequences of the bombing if humanitarian deliveries continue to be cut

international relief agencies in warning of the potentially catastrophic


In an October 23 statement, the president of the United Nations Security

Council emphasized the "importance of ensuring that emergency supplies are

delivered to Afghans in need as quickly as possible." The Afghan Women's

Mission welcomes the UN's demand on the Taliban to "stop preventing aid

from reaching the Afghan people and stop threatening the safety and

security of aid workers," but this is not enough, because aid deliveries

are also threatened by air strikes. The safe distribution of materials

and administration of medicines to the vulnerable Afghan people requires

an end to the bombing campaign.

Over 4 million Afghans depend on international aid to survive. In addition

to over two decades of continuous war, the Afghan people are experiencing

a three-year drought, the worst in over three decades. Oxfam estimates

that even before the tragic events of September 11, 5.5 million Afghans

were "already at risk of severe food shortages." After September 11, the

threat of a US attack on Afghanistan caused aid agencies to withdraw their

international staff from the country. The already fragile infrastructure

of aid distribution has begun to break down, and hundreds of thousands of

Afghans teeter on the brink of starvation with borders on all sides of the

country virtually shut down.

After the bombing began on October 7, any remaining aid convoys were

curtailed dramatically, since "truck drivers are...unwilling to take to

the roads to deliver goods...because of fear of US-led bombing or attacks

by one or another of the factions," said Refugees International. This has

been exacerbated, according to Oxfam, by the breakdown of law and order in

some parts of the country where NGOs and the UN operate.

"The missile strikes make our job harder to do," said Stephanie Bunker of

the United Nations, mentioning a "six week race against winter," after

which it will be extremely difficult to get aid into the country.

According to UNICEF, "as many as 100,000 more children will die...this

winter unless food reaches them...in the next six weeks." Two million

people do not have enough food to last the winter, and 500,000 of them

will be unreachable after snow begins to fall in mid November.

"It is evident now that we cannot, in reasonable safety, get food to

hungry Afghan people," said Oxfam director Barbara Stocking.

More information about the plight of Afghan refugees is also available

on the Afghan Women's Mission website,

http://www.afghanwomensmission.org, and the RAWA website,


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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 4 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
They're barking up the wrong tree mary mary Friday, Oct. 26, 2001 at 9:53 AM
context anti-imperialist Friday, Oct. 26, 2001 at 5:44 PM
Even if they are legit. mary mary Friday, Oct. 26, 2001 at 6:43 PM
wrong wrong wrong so wrong Friday, Oct. 26, 2001 at 10:16 PM
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