The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have called attention to the strain their operations in Afghanistan are experiencing as the Taliban extends its control over the country and as foreign and some Afghan nationals struggle to exit the country or at least navigate the turbulent situation safely. The ban on commercial airplane landings in Kabul Airport has made it impossible to resupply much needed medicine and other stockpiles.
“As humanitarian needs in Afghanistan increase, the abilities to respond to those needs are rapidly declining,” the organization said in a statement. “WHO and UNICEF call for immediate and unimpeded access to deliver medicines and other lifesaving supplies to millions of people in need of aid, including 300 000 people displaced in the last two months alone.”
Since the situation has deteriorated in Afghanistan, WHO has distributed lifesaving supplies to its partners and to hospitals from its stocks in-country. Supplies are rapidly dwindling, and WHO currently only has enough to meet urgent needs for up to one and a half weeks. Most planes flying into the country to evacuate personnel have been arriving empty, missing crucial opportunities to bring in urgently needed health supplies and other humanitarian aid.
“With no commercial aircraft currently permitted to land in Kabul, we have no way to get supplies into the country and to those in need,” the statement continued. “Other humanitarian agencies are similarly constrained… WHO and UNICEF call for the immediate establishment of a humanitarian airbridge for the sustained and unimpeded delivery of aid into Afghanistan.”
More than 500 metric tons of WHO supplies, scheduled to be transported over three flights to Afghanistan this week and next week, remain in WHO’s logistics hub in Dubai’s International Humanitarian City. These include trauma medicines, essential medicines and medical supplies, pneumonia medicines, supplies for the management of severe acute malnutrition, and supplies for the management of chronic diseases.
WHO operates through 8 offices in Afghanistan and works with local implementing partners to provide urgently needed health care for all. As the Health Cluster lead WHO also ensures that partners continue delivering a coordinated response in all corners of the country.
UNICEF has 13 offices in Afghanistan and a range of partners that support us in delivering lifesaving supplies to the most disadvantaged.
To support the about 10 million children, and their families, affected by the humanitarian crisis, UNICEF is currently delivering life-saving services such as ready to use therapeutic food to nourish starving children and mobile health clinics to give urgent medical care. UNICEF is also delivering water to those most affected by the drought, including in camps for internally displaced people.
Despite the ongoing humanitarian crisis, UNICEF is distributing hygiene kits and continuing vaccination for babies and young children. UNICEF is also expanding its humanitarian response in the country by prepositioning supplies. In the past week, in several of the new camps for internally displaced people in Kabul, UNICEF established child-friendly spaces, nutrition hubs, and vaccination sites.
IMAGE CREDIT: U.S. Central Command Public Affairs