UN hopes to soon deliver aid to Afghanistan by land

According to UN officials about half the country's population are in need of humanitarian assistance. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The United Nations hopes to deliver aid to Afghanistan by land soon, a senior UN official said Tuesday (Sept 7), adding that a new representative of the global body was en route to the country.

"We would like to see the beginning of road travel in from other countries for supplies," said Mr Martin Griffiths, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

Mr Griffiths, speaking via videoconference, met the war-wary nation's new Taliban leadership in Kabul on Sunday and Monday.

For aid to flow however the new Afghan government must provide security. "We need to see security to allow humanitarian delivery," Mr Griffiths said.

He added that UN officials were seeking to confirm in writing oral promises of security from the Taliban, who took over Afghanistan late last month after a lightning offensive as United States troops withdrew.

"Humanitarian agencies around the world in every country need independence of assessment, delivery and monitoring of assistance, security and safety of national and international humanitarian workers... and of their families," he said.

Mr Griffiths also confirmed that the head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, Mr Filippo Grandi, was on his way to Afghanistan and hopes to be able to travel from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar.

Last week the UN announced that humanitarian flights, including from Pakistan, had resumed to northern and southern Afghanistan.

Some 600,000 Afghans have been displaced this year due to the unrest, Mr Griffiths said. According to UN officials about half the country's population, or 18 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called an international ministerial meeting in Geneva for Monday to increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

UN officials are seeking US$606 million (S$815 million) to help the country through the end of the year.

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