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Pakistanis, Afghans need food as conflict escalates

Rahmatullah and his children outside their tent in Gulan Camp, Khost.
Rahmatullah and his children outside their tent in Gulan Camp, Khost.

The Pakistani army is carrying out assaults against militant groups in north Waziristan. These militants include Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked forces. The fighting has also displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians, some whom have fled into neighboring Afghanistan.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is trying to feed these Pakistani war victims. Some have taken refuge in camps while others have settled with host Afghan families in the Khost and Paktika provinces.

WFP needs to provide food for these camps as well as the host families. The Afghans have been very welcoming to their Pakistani neighbors in need. But it's a major strain on Afghanistan's deeply impoverished villages. Julie Martinez of WFP says, "These host communities have limited resources and are in need of food and other humanitarian assistance to support the displaced population."

WFP gives out high energy biscuits, wheat flour, pulses, vegetable oil and other foods. However, funding is very low. There is a real risk of a break in the pipeline of food. This would place many families at risk of severe malnutrition. A WFP report stated,

If additional funds are not received on time, WFP will not be able to provide food assistance under its planned programme activities for 2014, including food assistance to cross border displaced families in Khost and Paktika provinces. WFP is seeking approximately US$ 43 million from now towards the end of the year."

The funding situation is made extremely difficult because of the number of ongoing emergencies including Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Central African Republic. WFP relies entirely on voluntary funding. The donations need to be quickly escalated to keep pace with the amount of conflicts and disasters.

WFP is running countrywide hunger relief missions in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. With some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world, both countries are in desperate need of aid and improving food security.

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