Afghan Women's Mission
to the U.S. Government:
Halt Bombing Immediately
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 international relief agencies in warning of
the potentially catastrophic consequences of the bombing if humanitarian
deliveries continue to be cut back.
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
"It is evident now that we cannot, in reasonable
safety, get food to hungry Afghan people," said Oxfam director
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, http://www.rawa.org.