Institute for Public Accuracy
Bombing Halt Now or Mass Starvation by Thanksgiving?
- October 29 -
Research director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Zaidi is Pakistani. CESR has
produced three comprehensive fact sheets on Afghanistan since September 11. She
said today: "Relief officials on the ground are warning that millions --
literally millions -- of Afghan civilians will starve to death this winter
unless the U.S. military suspends its attacks and allows the UN to re-establish
effective food distribution. We are talking about women, children and the
poorest of the poor, who have no means to access food in this war zone."
President of Conscience International, a humanitarian aid organization, Jennings was in
Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan this May and will soon return to resume
humanitarian work. He said today: "This is a race against time and we are
losing. Even before September 11, there was a major humanitarian crisis in
Afghanistan, with millions of people facing severe food shortages. And even
before the bombing began, Afghanistan had the largest number of refugees in the
world -- and refugees depend on aid for survival. The interruption of vital
food deliveries and the withdrawal of the staff of humanitarian agencies
because of the bombing have created a dire situation for the already vulnerable
population -- 70 percent were already malnourished. The Pentagon is claiming
progress, but it has acknowledged the food drops are minuscule and it is dragging
out its bombing campaign. Distribution and timing are crucial -- you could have
food in Kabul and not distribute it to the people who need it in the
countryside. Time is of the essence: we must act now before winter. The bombing
has to halt, we need to get food in or Afghan people will begin starving in
great numbers at about the same time Americans sit down for their Thanksgiving
Spokesperson for Christian Aid, Nutt recently arrived in London from Islamabad. He said today: "The simple fact is that less than 20 percent of what needs to is getting
into Afghanistan and even less is getting distributed. The only way to deal
with this is to have a pause in the bombing to stockpile food for the winter.
The UN is estimating that 7.5 million people need food aid. People are starving
now in some areas, according to our source of information from within
Afghanistan. It was actually starting when I was in Afghanistan this August --
in Herat and Ghor Province. Every village I went to had been affected by
drought. Camps were having deaths from hunger and hunger-related diseases.
There are coping mechanisms, but after three years of drought they run out --
people have eaten the seed stock. About 85 percent of the people live in rural
communities -- the roads are bad enough when the weather is good, you can't get
food to those rural areas in the winter. It's going to get worse and worse; you
could see entire villages wiped out. Governments have effectively sponsored the
Taliban regime; it's a bit hypocritical, we think, for them to say that now
it's crucial that they bomb the Taliban. Can't you wait four weeks for us to
feed millions of innocent people at risk of starvation?"
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