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Biden to give Afghanistan's frozen assets to humanitarian aid, then 9/11 victims

Editor's note: The World Food Program did not have an opportunity to address issues raised about its work in Afghanistan in NPR's report on Feb. 12, 2022. The U.N. agency sends this response to NPR addressing some of the statements made in NPR's interview with Foreign Policy columnist Lynne O'Donnell:

The UN World Food Programme takes serious issue with the description of our work in Afghanistan in this NPR report of February 12, 2022. We are especially troubled that these unfounded comments by a Foreign Policy magazine reporter were allowed to go unchallenged on air, so we take this opportunity here to set the record straight.  

As the largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide — and one that has worked in Afghanistan for decades — WFP takes its responsibility for safe food distribution extremely seriously. WFP adheres to all international standards to ensure both that food is safe to consume and that distributions are well managed. We're aware of absolutely no incidents that would support any description of "rotten and inedible" food. No food safety incidents have occurred that could remotely lead to these allegations. And we certainly do not "dump" food.

The suggestion that there is "no monitoring of who is getting access to food" simply isn't credible to anyone who follows humanitarian aid practices. A defining feature of our work is making sure food goes to those for whom it's intended. WFP works closely with partners to ensure that the highest level of quality and standards are upheld for all WFP distributions. We enforce rigorous monitoring systems to ensure food distributions take place with all safety- and quality-control checks. To ensure independent monitoring and access hard-to-reach areas, WFP deploys third-party monitors. No distribution takes place without monitoring and assessment to ensure standards are maintained.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.