Armed Taliban banditry hampering humanitarian work in Afghanistan UN reports

Armed Taliban and banditry were effectively hampering humanitarian work in southern Afghanistan, United Nations officials said today.Insecure working conditions were creating bottlenecks for humanitarian efforts in Kandahar and in vast areas north and west of the city, Einar Holtet, spokesman for the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, said at a press briefing in Islamabad.”The administration in Kabul is facing a difficult task in the coming two months that will be critical for humanitarian assistance, especially in remote areas, particularly in Hazarajat and areas as far west as Herat,” he said.The International Organization of Migration, meanwhile, has stepped up distribution of winter tents to internally displaced people (IDP) in Herat, Kunduz and Mazar-i-Sharif, according to the spokesman. In Herat, where there are five IDP camps with 250,000 people, delivery of 6,500 tents from Turkey will help overcome a temporary shortage.Three checkpoints have been established and will give a more precise picture of new arrivals around Herat, Mr. Holtet said. According to the latest figures for new arrivals registered in Maslakh camp, there were 1,068 families, or 4,300 individuals, in the first week of 2002. In other news, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that additional vials of vaccine and syringes were heading out from Pakistan to various parts of Afghanistan, where the measles campaign will expand in the coming weeks.Supplies for the central and southeastern regions will leave Islamabad for storage facilities in Kabul, with immunization in Bamiyan City scheduled to begin on 10 January, according to UNICEF spokesman Chulho Hyun. From Islamabad and Peshawar, supplies were headed for Jalalabad.The campaign was also prepared to start in Kunduz and Takhar Provinces while half a million doses of vaccines and a same number of syringes have been in place in Herat since the weekend.The Kabul portion of the campaign has now reached more than 257,000 children aged six months to 12 years. According to the UNICEF spokesman, in the first four days of immunization in and around the Afghan capital, more than 80 per cent of children under the age of five were covered. read more