KABUL / CAIRO / KATHMANDU, August 22, 2021 – “As humanitarian needs increase in Afghanistan, the ability to respond to those needs is rapidly declining. WHO and UNICEF are calling for immediate and unhindered access to the delivery of medicines and other life-saving supplies to millions of people in need, including 300,000 people displaced in the last two months alone.
“Although the main focus in recent days has been on major air operations to evacuate internationals and vulnerable Afghans, the massive humanitarian needs that the majority of the population is facing should not and must not be neglected. Even before the events of recent weeks, Afghanistan was the third largest humanitarian operation in the world, with over 18 million people in need.
“WHO and UNICEF are committed to staying and helping for the people in Afghanistan.
“However, since no commercial aircraft are currently allowed to land in Kabul, we have no way of bringing supplies into the country and to those in need. Other humanitarian organizations are similarly constrained.
“WHO and UNICEF call for the immediate establishment of a humanitarian airlift for the permanent and unhindered delivery of aid to Afghanistan. We are also following closely with all UN and international partners to examine ways to expedite aid deliveries.
“In the early days of the recent hostilities, both WHO and UNICEF – like all other UN agencies – made the safety of our people a priority. But our work continued even when the hostilities were at their worst. We remain determined to stay and deliver in Afghanistan, and we have quickly set the course to meet the needs of the millions of Afghans who remain in the country.
“Conflict, displacement, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic all add to a complex and desperate situation in Afghanistan. Humanitarian aid agencies must be supported and facilitated in order to meet the enormous and growing needs in Afghanistan and to ensure that no one dies unnecessarily due to a lack of access to aid. “
Notes to the editors:
About WHO’s work in Afghanistan
In the past week, WHO distributed life-saving supplies from its stocks in the country to partners and hospitals. But supplies are rapidly dwindling and the WHO currently only has enough to meet urgent needs for up to a week and a half. Most of the planes entering the country to evacuate personnel arrived empty and missed important opportunities to deliver much-needed medical and other humanitarian aid. More than 500 tons of WHO supplies, which are to be transported on three flights to Afghanistan this week and next, will remain in the WHO logistics center in Dubai’s International Humanitarian City. These include trauma drugs, essential drugs and medical supplies, drugs for pneumonia, supplies for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition, and supplies for the treatment of chronic diseases. WHO operates through 8 offices in Afghanistan and works with local implementing partners to provide much-needed health care for all. As head of the health cluster, WHO also ensures that partners in all corners of the country continue to take coordinated action.
About UNICEF’s work in Afghanistan
UNICEF has 13 offices in Afghanistan and a number of partners who help us deliver life-saving supplies to the most disadvantaged people. In order to support the approximately 10 million children and their families affected by the humanitarian crisis, UNICEF currently offers life-saving services, such as: UNICEF is also supplying water to those hardest hit by the drought, including in camps for internally displaced persons. Despite the ongoing humanitarian crisis, UNICEF is distributing hygiene kits and continuing to vaccinate babies and young children. UNICEF is also expanding its humanitarian aid in the country by providing supplies. Last week, UNICEF set up child-friendly rooms, feeding centers and vaccination centers in several of the new camps for internally displaced persons in Kabul.