U.N. agency to cut food rations for 1 million Afghans over funding
By Kay Johnson
KABUL (Reuters) - Funding shortfalls have forced the World Food Program to cut rations for up to 1 million people in Afghanistan, a WFP official said, an early sign that aid money may dwindle as the international combat mission winds down.
The U.N. food assistance agency, which runs on donations from member countries, faces a gap of about $30 million for its program in Afghanistan, country director Claude Jibidar told Reuters in an interview.
"We have had to cut down the rations of the people we are assisting, just so that we can buy some time, so we don’t stop altogether," Jibidar said.
He said the cuts, to 1,500 calories a day from 2,100, would affect up to 1 million people, many of whom have had to flee their homes because of the escalating war between the Taliban insurgency and the Western-backed Afghan government.
For those displaced by the war, the prospect that food aid could stop is grim.
"If the food rations get stopped, we will die of hunger," said Bibi Fatima, an elderly woman who lives with eight family members in a mud hut on Kabul's eastern outskirts.
The family was forced to flee their home in Helmand, a southern province where fighting has been fierce, and they have no income except what Fatima's grandchildren bring in from begging on the streets.
She said she had received food from a U.N. agency in past winters, and was counting on help this coming season. Continued...