Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence


  Humanitarian aid agencies with programmes in Afghanistan are currently experiencing severe operational constraints. Accessibility due to security concerns and weather conditions, combined with bureaucratic delays are the primary issues reported by agencies.

Security concerns

    —  Military conflict.

    —  Aerial bombardment.

    —  Small pockets of Taliban causing uncertainty and tensions in some areas.

    —  Plunder of office equipment and furniture.

    —  Warehouses looted.

    —  Vehicles at risk of being taken by armed groups.

    —  Smaller quantities of food have to be delivered at a time to minimise risk of very large amounts being stolen en route.

    —  Security in certain areas is poor, variable and unpredictable thus constraining programmes' activities. There are significant variations on a day to day basis and from region to region making it difficult to assess the overall threat.

Accessibility problems

    —  Delays in the issue of visas to Pakistan of up to three months despite all necessary supporting documentation being supplied with applications.

    —  Delays of up to three months in obtaining registration to allow travel by barge from Termez, Uzbekistan to Hairaton, Afghanistan.

    —  The only road across the Termez/Hairaton border remains blocked following the closure of the bridge by the Uzbek Government in 1998.

    —  An issue of particular concern is that it is currently too dangerous for expatriates to travel by road within Afghanistan yet UN flights to Kabul are prohibitively expensive. Thus, although there are approximately 17 international UN staff, together with seven with ICRC and one from DFID, there are no NGO staff in the capital.

    —  Security on the road routes is too poor at present to allow travel by this means. It is particularly bad on the route to Kabul from Pakistan.

    —  Difficulties and delays in obtaining Iranian visas.

    —  Winter snows have blocked some roads to vehicles in the more mountainous regions. This will significantly worsen as the winter progresses.

    —  Border restrictions are slowing up deliveries.

    —  Some regions are too unsafe to allow staff to return.

British Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG)

30 November 2001

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 20 December 2001