Letter: Humanitarian aid efforts in Afghanistan and Burundi

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Overseas Development Administration is not ignoring the plight of the Afghan people and it is gratifying that Ravi Narayanan and others (Letters, 9 February) recognise our prompt response.

We have regularly been among the first, and most generous, contributors to appeals from the UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA) and from British non-governmental organisations working in Afghanistan and with Afghan refugees in Pakistan. In response to the UNOCHA's March 1993 appeal, we pledged pounds 7.5m. This included:

pounds 3m for programmes of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees;

pounds 1m for the medical programmes of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC);

pounds 1m to the UNOCHA for mine clearance;

pounds 900,000 through the World Food Programme for food aid;

pounds 1m for Afghanaid, the main British non-governmental organisation working in Afghanistan.

We have needed no urging to act promptly in the latest crisis. We have responded immediately to all requests for help. Through the ICRC we have provided blankets and cooking sets for displaced people near Jalalabad. We have also given funds to the World Health Organisation for tablets to control malaria outbreaks, and nearly pounds 500,000 to the Ockenden Venture to supply tents and latrines to the camps.

We have also been consulting the UN agencies and non-governmental organisations about their further requirements. As a result of these contacts, I have now announced a new commitment of pounds 2.5m. The bulk of this will go to the UN agencies that are taking the lead in meeting the needs of the newly displaced Afghans, and to the ICRC, which is, despite the dangers, maintaining hospital supplies and running convoys through to Kabul. Another pounds 500,000 will be for British non-governmental organisation, including Oxfam, from whom we await details of a promised request for funds to provide a clean water supply to the Jalalabad camp.

Britain has not forgotten Afghanistan. We have a substantial and continuing programmne there and remain ready to help in any way we can.

Yours truly,


Minister for Overseas


Overseas Development


London, SW1

17 February