KBI/Tzu Mission to Afghanistan and
With Coordination provided by the AFPC - Asia Pacific Initiative
July 13, 2002
We have spent the last 48 hours working to obtain permission for our trucks to cross the border, obtain permission for us to cross the border, and making arrangements for transportation and security to be available when we walk across the border. These are all elements that we had expected to be provided and expedited by the Afghan Embassy here in Tashkent, but as we stated in our last Update, they have changed hands and have decided that helping us is no longer their problem.
As late as yesterday afternoon, we were still being refused permission from the embassy to support the movement of our trucks across the friendship bridge, and we still had not made secure arrangements for our personal transportation once in the country.
But, finally, things fell together at the last hours of the day yesterday. By demonstrating a healthy measure of completely unorthodox stubbornness at the embassy at closing time, and after having the document thrown at us across the desk several times, we finally got their stamp on the last document required to clear our trucks and the drivers. (No one was hospitalized, and no furniture had been rearranged, so this can be deemed a hard fought, unqualified success.)
We then made contact with people who have offered to help us once we are on the other side of the bridge with transportation and security. We will meet them later this weekend in Termed, just on the Uzbekistan side of the bridge.
The convoy of 9 large trucks of aid supplies left Tashkent yesterday afternoon, headed first for the Friendship Bridge, where they should arrive by Monday morning. We will be there to meet them. After we all cross the bridge, we are on a whirlwind trip to get to each destination ahead of the trucks, meet the officials in the respective towns, get set up for distribution, and unload the trucks.
The most difficult part will be getting from one town to the next in time not to delay the trucks. There are large distances to be covered after our first stop in Aibak, so we will have to keep moving.
We expect that this work will consume all of the time left in July.
Once complete with our work in Afghanistan, we will return to Bangkok, and on to Cambodia. Depending on how things go on the joint forces MedCAP program in the Philippines, we may go there before Cambodia.
Once inside Afghanistan, our updates may be a little less frequent and they may seem somewhat vague regarding our exact location and schedule. We will be simply following common sense security procedures while in Afghanistan, as recommended by many of our advisors. We should still have plenty of photos.
Since our time since the last update has been consumed in obtaining documentation and permission, there are no photos attached to this update.
Until next time,
Walt Ratterman, with Ed Artis and Adrian Belic
July 13, 2002