WFP says food aid being looted in NW Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 13, 2008 (AFP) – The UN World Food Programme on Thursday expressed concern over a rise in the looting of humanitarian food supplies in northwestern Pakistan, saying it was hurting the poor.

Some 900 tons of edible oil and wheat were looted in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which borders Afghanistan, in three incidents in the last month, it said in a statement.

The UN agency said that it was “greatly concerned over rapidly increasing losses of humanitarian food aid destined for the undernourished population” of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Landlocked Afghanistan depends on Pakistan for its supplies from overseas.

Suspected Taliban-linked militants in Pakistan have burnt several oil tankers carrying fuel for coalition forces based in Afghanistan and attacked goods trucks in the past.

“In three different incidents over 900 tons of wheat and edible oil with a value of approximately one million US dollars were lost to armed assaults in NWFP,” the World Food Programme (WFP) statement said.

There has been a surge in violence in the province in recent months blamed on Islamic militants from the Taliban regime who fled across the border following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Pakistani troops have increased operations in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in a bid to root out Islamist militants.

“The deteriorating security situation in NWFP is hampering WFP’s ability to provide much needed food assistance for the poor in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP Country Director in Pakistan said.

“We are very concerned that people who are already hard hit by food shortages and rising prices are additionally deprived due to such incidents.”

The WFP said it lost eleven trucks carrying 441 tons of wheat to Afghanistan in a massive armed attack in the Khyber tribal district of Pakistan on Monday and last month a large number of armed attackers looted 208 tons of wheat.

In another incident on October 21, 263 tons of edible oil meant for a school feeding programme was burned in Swat district.

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Copyright (c) 2008 Agence France-Presse

What happened?  I dont understand the latest development in NWFP.  It seems that the Pakistani government is losing control on the territory.  Last two days in the heart of NGO’s enclave in University Town, an international humanitarian worker along with his driver were killed, now the looting.  The last time we heard about mass looting is on 2002.  That was acceptable because during that period of time, Taliban still exist and the situation is not fully controlled by the government. 

Pakistani government should be seen more serious and tighthen security especially for the safety of humanitarian and other ngo’s in the area.  I pray for the safety of my fellow NGO’s friends and wishing you all the success while performing your duties.  All the best Bro & Sis.

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR, Alor Setar, Kedah

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