IRC Delivers Food To Desperate Villagers in Afghanistan
International Rescue Committee relief teams fighting to save thousands of starving villagers in north-central Afghanistan say they’ve now taken food supplies to more than half of the desperate people in the mountain region of Zareh.
Using teams of pack animals, the IRC and its local partners brought 3,000 metric tons of wheat, provided by the World Food Program, to the area. The weather was so bitter cold that four villagers and a donkey froze to death on their way back from a food collection point.
Despite the heavy snow and freezing temperatures, IRC’s field coordinator Idrees Rahmani says the aid reached more than 23,000 people in the stricken Zareh area. “The food should sustain these communities for up to four months,” he said.
Rahmani said the IRC and its partners have now begun a second round of food distributions, 1,700 metric tons of wheat, in an effort to reach those in isolated villages who have yet to receive aid.
Last week the rescue program drew world attention after the IRC discovered that thousands of mountain people, victims of war and drought, were eating grass and roots to survive and that many had died from hunger or were severely malnourished.
In addition to these villagers, Rahmani estimated that some 500 families are returning to this district from Iran and other parts of Afghanistan and said they are also in need of urgent assistance.
WFP says it has two helicopters to lift food to inaccessible villages, carrying loads in slings under the machines and lowering them without landing. WFP assessment teams also plan to use the helicopters to back up horseback riders now scouring the area for needy villagers.
After surveys of the nutritional health of people around Zareh village, IRC has asked WFP for high protein food that will supplement wheat, to distribute there.
Meanwhile, the IRC is working with the International Red Cross to support a health clinic at Zareh village for the severely malnourished.