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Afghanistan: Emergency food distribution in the Dar-e-Suf valley

08-03-2001 News Release 01/09

Between 28 February and 4 March the ICRC distributed food rations to 14,000 people trapped by bad weather in the conflict-affected Dar-e-Suf valley, south of Mazar-i-Sharif. With the roads to the valley heavily mined and covered in snow, the ICRC organized several convoys of donkeys to reach the region's 250 villages.

The emergency distribution took place following a survey conducted by the ICRC in mid-February. Delegates in charge of the survey described the situation in humanitarian terms as " dramatic " . Reto Stocker, ICRC head of sub-delegation in Mazar-i-Sharif, said: " In most of the villages we visited, there was little or no food left. To make matters worse, there was no sign of winter wheat being grown " .

Carrying up to 100 kg of supplies each, some 800 donkeys travelled through the valley during the four-day operation. The rations distributed to the families, intended to help them survive until the summer, included rice, beans and oil.

In addition to the ongoing conflict, the Dar-e-Suf valley has been heavily hit by a recent drought which destroyed the harvest in most of the rain-fed areas.

The ICRC's emergency humanitarian operation, agreed to by both parties to the conflict, was the first to make it across the front lines into this area from the north since August 1998.