U.N. aid convoy leaves for northern Afghanistan
By Mike Chinoy
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (CNN) -- A United Nations aid convoy carrying 200 metric tons of food and supplies left for Afghanistan on Saturday, the first major shipment of humanitarian aid to that country since the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
The mission, organized by UNICEF, contains 20 trucks filled with blankets, as well as emergency food and medical supplies.
The convoy will take rugged roads through mountainous northern Pakistan to Chitral, Afghanistan. The supplies will then be loaded onto hundreds of mules and horses that will the take the supplies into northern Afghanistan.
The opposition Northern Alliance, which controls much of northeastern Afghanistan, has given the U.N. mission security clearance into the area.
U.N. officials say relief workers face several dangers, from rough terrain to a lack of protection, in their attempt to get into Afghanistan.
"If you try and send convoys in and you've got no security, you risk losing the convoys," said Rupert Colville, of the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Refugees. "It's incredibly difficult to set foot even a few 100 meters inside that country right now."
Additional supplies are being stockpiled in Peshawar, Pakistan, in the event other supply runs are made into the country.
Similar aid missions are not being allowed into portions of Afghanistan controlled by the ruling Taliban.
On Tuesday, the Taliban confiscated 1,400 tons of supplies from the U.N.'s World Food Program, shut down its facilities in the country and put them under guard. That group said it will look for alternative ways to get the food across the border from Pakistan.
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