Insecurity and corruption hinder UN assistance in Afghanistan: UN official

Afghan refugees (file photo)

21 December 2009 – The United Nations warned today that insecurity and corruption continue to disrupt humanitarian efforts to the most vulnerable groups in Afghanistan, hindering delivery of food and other forms of aid this winter.

Speaking at a press conference today in Kabul, Wael Haj-Ibrahim, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) representative in Afghanistan, said that corruption was “increasing the cost of our ability to deliver and transport goods and services and makes it difficult for us to target the people who we feel are the priority.”

He added that corruption is everyone’s concern and should be dealt with on all levels.

“Fighting corruption is the collective responsibility of not just government but also UN agencies, community leadership and community members,” Mr. Wael said. “We all have to play a role in resolving it rather than just to continue to talk about it as an abstract and pointing the finger at a particular individual or institution. It’s a problem that we all face and we all have to deal with it.”

Each year, some 400,000 Afghans are seriously affected by natural disasters such as droughts, floods and extreme weather conditions. More than six million people are in need of assistance to reach their food requirement.

This year, OCHA estimated the need of about US$871 million in total assistance required, of which some US $360 million is for food. The appeal was raised on 20 November in Geneva.

So far, OCHA has been able to dispatch 80 per cent of the food and assistance required to continue its winter programming, but faces insecurity, particularly in the southern and south-eastern areas.

The World Food Programme has reported that it was able to supply 30,500 tons of food to 800,000 beneficiaries depending on the varying security situation. In the northern city of Faizabad, 100 per cent of the food had been delivered. In the north-western province of Herat where insecurity and logistical problems are more common, only 60 per cent of the food has been delivered.

In addition, Mr. Wael noted that corruption in Afghanistan would make it difficult to convince donors to continue providing assistance.

“What is important for us it to be able to access people in a timely manner, to conduct assessments, to mobilize resources and to be able to deliver the assistance,” said Mr. Wael.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that H1N1 could be a problem in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Health and WHO expect to have 550,000 Tamiflu vaccines this winter, with an additional 1.8 million vaccines available in April.


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