Afghanistan: WHO, UNICEF Seek Help To Deliver Critical Health Supplies Amidst Kabul Airport Blockage

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A displaced Afghan and her child.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have called for immediate and unimpeded access to deliver medicines and other life-saving supplies to millions of people in need of aid, including 300 000 people displaced in the last two months alone in Afghanistan.

A statement by WHO made available to journalists said this is amidst the Kabul Airport blockage and the rising humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, even as the abilities to respond to those needs are rapidly declining.

“While the main focus over the past days has been major air operations for the evacuation of internationals and vulnerable Afghans, the massive humanitarian needs facing the majority of the population should not and cannot be neglected. Even prior to the events of the past weeks, Afghanistan represented the world’s third largest humanitarian operation, with over 18 million people requiring assistance.

“WHO and UNICEF are committed to stay and deliver for the people of Afghanistan.

“However, 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.  Other humanitarian agencies are similarly constrained,” it said.

WHO and UNICEF also called for the immediate establishment of a humanitarian airbridge for the sustained and unimpeded delivery of aid into Afghanistan, saying they are also closely following up with all UN and international partners to explore options for expediting aid shipments. 

“In the first few days of the recent hostilities, both WHO and UNICEF — like all other UN agencies — prioritized the safety and security of our staff. But our work continued even when the hostilities were at their worst.  We remain committed to staying in Afghanistan and delivering, and we rapidly shifted gears to address the needs of millions of Afghans who remain in the country.

“Conflict, displacement, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic are all contributing to a complex and desperate situation in Afghanistan.  Humanitarian agencies need to be supported and facilitated to meet the enormous and growing needs in Afghanistan, and make sure that no one dies unnecessarily due to lack of access to aid,” it added.

Nkechi Isaac with agency report
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