Lisbon, Portugal, 31 October 2001 - As winter approaches and the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan deepens, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal today announced a joint collaboration between the Portuguese Institute of Co-operation (ICP), the Aga Khan Foundation (Portugal) and Focus Humanitarian Assistance Europe Foundation (FOCUS) to provide urgently needed food assistance to displaced populations in Afghanistan. Under an Agreement signed here today, the ICP will contribute 700,000 Euros for the purchase of wheat to be distributed amongst 70,000 displaced persons in Northeast Afghanistan, as part of an extensive emergency relief operation being undertaken by FOCUS in collaboration with agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network and other agencies of the United Nations including the World Food Programme.
The wheat is to be distributed directly to displaced persons in the Badakshan, Parwan and Takhar provinces which are at serious risk of becoming completely isolated until Spring 2002. Border closures and military action are preventing thousands from taking refuge in neighbouring countries and making the passage of humanitarian aid almost impossible. FOCUS's extensive logistics capacity in Northern Afghanistan, supported by a base in Tajikistan permits it to overcome some of these challenges. The Agreement signed today will enable thousands of displaced persons to survive the two coming critical months of the Afghan winter.
Active in Afghanistan since 1996, FOCUS has, over the past two years, increasingly been promoting a significant agriculture and infrastructure rehabilitation programme. FOCUS has during 2001, provided food and other assistance to over 450,000 people in Afghanistan. FOCUS's programmes in Afghanistan remain premised on supporting people in their localities so as to prevent migration and internal displacement. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, FOCUS has initiated rehabilitation, construction and agricultural activities as soon as local conditions have allowed. As an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, FOCUS hopes to enable as swift a transition as is possible into long-term development initiatives of the type that the Network has already successfully launched in similar high-mountain environments in Tajikistan and Northern Pakistan.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is an international emergency response agency that provides relief and support services during and following natural and man-made disasters, primarily in Asia and Africa. FOCUS helps people in need reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid as it facilitates their transition to sustainable self-reliance. FOCUS is affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve opportunities and living conditions, for people of all faiths and origins, in specific regions of the developing world. More details at: www.akdn.org
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Aly Mawji
Focus Humanitarian Assistance
Mr. Najmi Kanji
Aga Khan Development Network