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    Reconstruction,Health,Migration

    210,000 people to receive UN winter assistance

    KABUL (PAN):  The UN’s refugee agency on Wednesday launched its winter programme, providing the first of 210,000 vulnerable Afghans with blankets, fuel and other winter supplies.

    Starting in the Dah Sabz district of Kabul, 1,000 people received assistance, a statement from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said.

    Other supplies will be distributed to people the UNHCR identifies as the most vulnerable, including refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran and those displaced by war and natural disasters.

    More than 211,000 blankets, 70,000 plastic sheets, 70,000 jerry cans and 620,000 items of warm clothing, including shawls, sweaters, shoes and socks have been sent to UNHCR’s regional offices for countrywide distribution, the statement said.

    All the distributions will have been completed by the end of December.

    “Almost one third of Afghanistan’s population live below the poverty line. Returnee and (internally displaced) families are among those most at risk in this vulnerable segment of the population.  The winter assistance programme provides a temporary safety net and protects these poor families from falling into destitution, illness, or worse,” said UNHCR’s Afghanistan representative, Ewen Macleod.

    The UNHCR said it was moving to pre-empt a situation similar to the harsh winter of 2007/2008, when heavy snow prevented aid agencies reaching many remote areas in need of help.

    Some 48,000 people will be assisted in western Herat, Badghis, Farah and Ghor provinces, and more than 43,000 people will receive aid in eastern Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar provinces.

    UNHCR will assist 30,000 people in Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan provinces and 18,000 people in southeastern Paktia and Khost provinces.

    About 30,000 people will be assisted in central provinces of Parwan, Kapisa, Logar and also Ghazni, while in the northeastern and northern provinces of Balkh, Faryab, Samangan, Jawzjan and Sar-i-Pul, 24,000 people will receive aid. Another 10,000 people will receive winter aid in Kunduz, Baghlan and Takhar provinces.

    UNHCR spokesman, Nadir Farhad, said the total value of the aid was more than $5 million.

    Eight million Afghans are living under the poverty line and the UNHCR aid only meets their basic needs, he said. 

    am/cas