Will U.S. Rejection of Request for
Pause in Bombing Cause 7.5 Million Afghans to Starve to Death?
estimates are that up to 7.5 million -- yes, that's right, seven and
one-half million -- Afghans could starve to death this winter unless
truck convoys of food are able to resume deliveries to Afghanistan.
U.S. bombing has effectively
halted these deliveries. Current U.S. airdrops of food would meet less
than 1% of the need, even if the supplies were assured of getting to the
people who need them, which is unlikely.
Already, the British charity
Christian Aid says that 600 people have died in northern Afghanistan from
starvation, malnutrition and related diseases.
There are other reports of
deaths in refugee camps around the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Afghanistan Starvation: The Plea
While there was an earlier story
that "the Pentagon and British Defense Ministry have agreed to
coordinate the air strikes so that they will not hit relief convoys,"
such does not appear to be the case.
Given this backdrop, the
United Nations itself apparently plans
to make an unprecedented appeal for the bombing to at least temporarily stop
so that a huge aid operation can be undertaken.
Such an appeal has already
by Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, who explained:
We've run out of food, the
borders are closed, we can't reach our staffs and time is running out.
American officials rejected
the request for a bombing halt, asserting that the Taliban, not American
air raids, were blocking food distribution.
While there have been reports
of Taliban troops levying "taxes" on food convoys, the American
response is disingenuous at best, since without the food entering the
country in the first place, there is absolutely no hope to feed the starving
The winter snows have already
come to part of Afghanistan. Once the winter fully settles in, getting
food to remote villages will be near impossible.
The war can be resumed after
a short period of time, but once the opportunity passes to deliver the food
before the winter, that will be an irrevocable death sentence for millions
of men, women and children.
What a humanitarian disaster
it would be, and what a geopolitical nightmare, if a continued U.S. refusal
to temporarily halt the bombing were to cause millions of Afghans to starve
Afghanistan Starvation: The Media's
The media silence on this
impending disaster is scandalous. The New York Times, for
example, buried the Oxfam call for a bombing halt, and the U.S. rejection of
that request, way down in an inside story that was focused on the crew of
one of the planes making the U.S. airdrops.
If such a disaster does, God
forbid, occur, I can already see the solemn front-page stories in the New
York Times and other U.S. publications, as well as the editorials
lamenting that not enough was done to prevent such a tragedy, that a bombing
halt should have been undertaken.
The New York Times
will not, of course, explain that its own failure to adequately report on
the disaster-in-the-making when there was still time to prevent it was one
of the causes of its occurring.