Read at : IRIN
PAKISTAN: Security fears prompt closure of WFP food hubs
ISLAMABAD, 21 October 2009 (IRIN) – The UN World Food Programme has been forced to close 20 food hubs supplying food aid to over two million people in North West Frontier Province, owing to rising security fears.
WFP spokesman Amjad Jamal told IRIN “This is a temporary closure, for a few days only, depending on the security situation.” All WFP food distribution centres, in Charsadda, Swabi, Dir, Mardan, Buner, Swat and Bajaur were closed on 21 October. The situation is to be reviewed later this week.
The move comes as the security situation worsens. All educational institutions were closed on government orders following a suicide bombing on 20 October at the Islamic University in Islamabad in which at least six people were killed. Dozens of others have died in a spate of bombings over the past two weeks in other places. Earlier this month, a suicide bomber attacked the WFP office in the capital, killing five employees.
The WFP food hubs had been giving out supplies to the 2.3 million people displaced this year as a result of the conflict between government forces and Taliban militants. Though most of those displaced from Swat, Dir and Buner have returned home since fighting ended in July, a large number remain in need of food aid.
Stephen Brack of the International Committee of the Red Cross told IRIN: “Offering people in conflict-hit zones food is also important so they don’t build up more debt, since many lost livelihoods and have spent the savings they had during the displacement.”
Around 2.4 million displaced people received aid from the WFP food hubs last month, according to Jamal. News of their closure brought immediate concern from people who continue to struggle to survive.