Amid blockade of Kabul airport, WHO, UNICEF call for help to deliver essential medical supplies to Afghanistan
KABUL / CAIRO / KATMANDU, August 22, 2021 – “As humanitarian needs in Afghanistan increase, the capacity to meet those needs is rapidly diminishing. WHO and UNICEF are calling for immediate and unimpeded access to the delivery of medicines and other life-saving supplies to millions of people in need, including 300,000 people displaced in the past two months alone.
“Although the focus in recent days has been on major air operations for the evacuation of internationals and vulnerable Afghans, the massive humanitarian needs facing the majority of the population must not – and cannot – be neglected. Even before the events of the past few weeks, Afghanistan represented the third largest humanitarian operation in the world, with more than 18 million people in need of assistance.
“WHO and UNICEF are committed to staying and providing services to the Afghan people.
“However, with no commercial planes currently cleared to land in Kabul, we have no way of getting supplies into the country and to those in need. Other humanitarian agencies are subject to similar constraints.
“WHO and UNICEF are calling for the immediate establishment of a humanitarian airlift for the sustained and unimpeded delivery of aid to Afghanistan. We are also closely monitoring all United Nations and international partners to explore options to expedite aid shipments.
“In the early days of recent hostilities, WHO and UNICEF – like all other United Nations agencies – made the safety and security of our staff a priority. But our work continued even when hostilities were at their height. We remain committed to staying in and getting there in Afghanistan, and we have quickly shifted gears to meet the needs of the millions of Afghans who remain in the country.
“Conflict, displacement, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic all contribute to a complex and desperate situation in Afghanistan. Humanitarian agencies must be supported and facilitated to meet the huge and growing needs in Afghanistan, and to ensure that no one dies needlessly due to lack of access to aid.
Notes to Editors:
About WHO’s work in Afghanistan
Last week, WHO distributed vital supplies to partners and hospitals from its stocks around the country. But supplies are dwindling rapidly and WHO currently has only enough to meet urgent needs for a week and a half. Most planes flying around the country to evacuate personnel arrived empty, missing crucial opportunities to deliver health supplies and other emergency humanitarian aid. More than 500 metric tons of WHO supplies, which are expected to be carried on three flights to Afghanistan this week and next, remain in the WHO logistics center in the international humanitarian city of Dubai. These include trauma medicines, essential medicines and medical supplies, medicines for pneumonia, 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 emergency health care to all. As the leader of the Health Cluster, WHO is also ensuring that partners continue to provide a coordinated response in all corners of the country.
About UNICEF’s work in Afghanistan
UNICEF has 13 offices in Afghanistan and a range of partners who support us in delivering vital supplies to the most disadvantaged. To support the estimated 10 million children and their families affected by the humanitarian crisis, UNICEF is currently providing life-saving services such as ready-to-use therapeutic food to feed hungry children and mobile health clinics to provide emergency medical care. UNICEF is also providing water to those most affected by the drought, especially in camps for internally displaced people. Despite the current humanitarian crisis, UNICEF is distributing hygiene kits and continuing to immunize babies and young children. UNICEF is also expanding its humanitarian response in the country by prepositioning supplies. Last week, in several of the new IDP camps in Kabul, UNICEF set up child-friendly spaces, nutrition centers and vaccination sites.