Press Releases

    AFG/175
    IHA/134
    18 December 2001

    AGREEMENT SIGNED BY UNITED NATIONS AND UZBEKISTAN
    TO SPEED UP DELIVERY OF URGENTLY NEEDED
    HUMANITARIAN AID TO AFGHANISTAN

    NEW YORK, 14 December (OCHA) -- Less than one week after the Friendship Bridge across the Amudarya river was reopened, the United Nations and the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed an agreement that will help increase deliveries of humanitarian assistance to under-supplied areas in northern Afghanistan.

    The Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, Abdulaziz Kamilov, and the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Richard Conroy, signed the agreement this afternoon in Tashkent. The agreement sets out a series of arrangements that will facilitate humanitarian cross-border operations by air, rail and road, as well as the movement of humanitarian staff across the border between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. These arrangements will apply to relief cargo and staff of United Nations Agencies and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The United Nations will assist the Government in identifying international NGOs with humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan, and in facilitating travel by NGO personnel between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

    Most importantly, the agreement will expedite the delivery of food, medicine, blankets, clothing and other essential, life-saving assistance across the Friendship Bridge to highly vulnerable areas in northern Afghanistan. The United Nations and the Ministry of Emergency Situations will jointly co-ordinate the passage of wagons and vehicles over the bridge and arrange for the necessary clearances.

    The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, hailed the signing of the agreement as an important step towards meeting desperate needs in northern Afghanistan. "This agreement should lead to a rapid increase in deliveries to northern areas. Many provinces in the north remain undersupplied and we have been receiving alarming reports of severe malnutrition in several areas." He also cautioned that increasing cross-border deliveries will only be effective if the assistance can reach those who need it most. "Too many of the most vulnerable areas in the north remain inaccessible to relief workers because of insecurity, including Baghlan province and many rural areas. Unless stability and law and order is restored quickly, many thousands will remain beyond our reach, including displaced people who desperately need food, shelter and basic health care."

    For additional information, please contact Oliver Ulich, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, on (212) 963-8263.

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