Oxfam has warned that thousands of people in Afghanistan are primarily threatened by hunger rather than US military retaliation.

The British charity has written to Tony Blair saying the international community must take responsibility for those in danger.

Oxfam is also demanding that the US and its allies should promise Afghan civilians they will not be targeted.

It believes aid should be resumed to prevent refugees besieging Afghanistan's borders. Three million people in Afghanistan depended on food aid, Barbara Stocking, of Oxfam, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The situation in Afghanistan was dire even before last week.

"Since last week, food has not been going in. You can imagine the scale that is required - 6,000 truckloads have to go in every month to keep those people going.

Food supplies

"People know that food is not getting there and so they are on the move.

"It is not too late to do something about that.

"The two things we are asking for is first of all to get the UN world food programme food supplies moving in again into Afghanistan.

"But secondly to do what we can to reduce people's fear and what we are asking is that the international alliance really comes out very strongly and says that it won't target civilians."

Ms Stocking also called for the re-opening of the borders around Afghanistan to allow refugees to escape to safety.

Macedonia reminder

"They have rights to come out in fear of their lives.

"We don't want the situation that people remember in Macedonia where hundreds of people were queued up at the border.

"In this case it would be massively greater numbers and the horrors of that."

British aid worker Chris Johnson told BBC News that Friday's decision by the ruling Taleban's to forbid the use of UN radio and telephone communications equipment in Afghanistan would make it "almost impossible" to organise relief supplies.

Ms Johnson, who has spent the past six years in the country, added: "Even before the terrible events of the 11th people in Afghanistan were already suffering from two and in some cases even three years of drought on top of two decades of war."

"With food supplies desperately low, it is difficult to know how they will survive the winter."

On Wednesday, 14 charities called for restraint by the US and other western governments to avoid a "descent into a spiral of violence".




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