Afghan Women's Mission
Pasadena, CA 91101
For Immediate Release
Contact: Martha J. Heil, (626) 396-1870 or
AFGHAN WOMEN'S MISSION TO U.S. GOVERMNENT: HALT BOMBING IMMEDIATELY
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,