The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has moved personnel into isolated parts of Afghanistan as part of a three-month effort to assess the country’s food needs, a spokesperson for the agency announced today. “Teams are moving into remote mountain villages, where extremely vulnerableinhabitants are suffering the ravaging effects of a punishing three-year drought and years of conflict,” WFP spokesperson Jennifer Abrahamson told reporters in Islamabad. Using Mi-8 helicopters, the agency has sent teams to into isolated areas of the Dara-e-Suf, which WFP said has been plagued by a complex set of problems that directly affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. “Including the drought, which decimated families’ ability to grow crops or support livestock, Dara-e-Suf lies in the crossfire of continued factional fighting and banditry,” explained Ms. Abrahamson. “It is also historically one of Afghanistan’s poorest districts.” WFP provided some 1,500 tonnes of wheat for nearly 84,000 people in Dara-e-Suf in January, and upwards of 500 tonnes is now on its way to the remote region. Despite this aid, the spokesperson noted that villagers remain extremely weak. “They are in need of medicine, seeds, tools, clothing and clean water,” she said. For its part, WFP plans to deliver other basic nutritious food items, such as beans and oil, in the coming weeks and months. In addition, the agency is preparing to launch new helicopter assessment missions throughout the country. “Populations to be assessed will include residents who are drought-affected, marginal and isolated groups, internally displaced persons and returnees,” said Ms. Abhrahamson.