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UN Official: Trains Stuck In Uzbekistan Could Cause Tajik Food Shortage

Map - Tajikistan

Map - Tajikistan

DUSHANBE -- The head of the UN's World Food Program (WFP) office in Tajikistan says Uzbekistan's decision to block rail traffic to Tajikistan threatens to create severe food shortages, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The WFP's Alzira Ferreira told RFE/RL on December 13 that even food being sent to Tajikistan as humanitarian aid is not reaching its destination due to the Uzbek authorities' refusal to allow trains bound for Tajikistan to pass through Uzbekistan.

Ferreira said there are 23 trains with food stocks organized by the WFP waiting to make the last part of their journey into Tajikistan.

The WFP regularly provides aid to some 500,000 people and 2,000 schools located mainly in Tajikistan's southern Khatlon region.

Ferreira said food prices in Tajikistan are rising due to the shortages caused by the blockade of rail traffic and an increasing number of Tajiks are unable to afford basic goods.

Uzbekistan says there are still problems on the railway heading into Tajikistan after an explosion last month that damaged the tracks.

A representative for Tajik railways, Usmon Kalandarov, said it is unknown when Uzbekistan will finish repairing the tracks.

Read more in Tajik here