HL UN urges relief for Afghanistan before worst of winter snow hits
Byline: :The New York Times
SO THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER (OCR)
Origin: GENEVA, Switzerland
LP Hoping to stave off the malnutrition afflicting thousands of children in Afghanistan, the United Nations is struggling to bring food and medicine to the country before the worst of the winter snow sets in.
TX But UN officials complain that most Western countries are continuing to withhold aid to needy civilians in cities controlled by the Soviet-backed Kabul government. After meeting in the coming week with officials from UN agencies, * Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the organization's coordinator for humanitarian relief to Afghanistan, is expected to appeal for about 2,000 tons of high-protein food supplements and medical supplies worth $4 million. In a survey conducted in October, UNICEF found that up to 40 percent of the children examined in Kabul, the Afghan capital, suffered from "mild to moderate" malnutrition. Several UN officials complained that most traditional donor countries have released relatively little money in an effort to maintain pressure on the Kabul government. Japan and the Scandinavian countries are contributing generously, however, the officials say. "The army and government employees are getting food," said Ekrem Birerdinc, the official who oversees UNICEF's aid to Afghanistan. "The pressure is being put on the poor woman with eight kids whose husband is either dead or off fighting with the rebels." Just as it did last winter, the United Nations is trying to channel food to the "vulnerable" population in Afghanistan. Most are among the 2 million people who have fled their villages and taken refuge in shantytowns around Kabul and other cities. UN officials have designated about 200,000 children under the age of 5 and pregnant or nursing mothers as the priority recipients. Officials say a greater number of Afghans in rebel-held rural zones are receiving food from across the border, mainly from northwestern Pakistan, through an assistance program supervised by the United Nations. Although a considerable amount of food is on the market in Afghanistan, officials say food prices in Kabul have doubled since October, putting supplies out of reach for the poor. Moreover, fuel is in short supply. A train with about 60 sealed wagons of supplies is expected to arrive at the railhead on the northern Afghan border sometime between Christmas and New Year's Day.
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