A medical aid shipment from the World Health Organisation [WHO] was shipped on a Qatar Airways aircraft from Doha on Monday morning.
Qatar’s recent financial contributions and assistance to support Afghanistan are expected to reach $50 million, a senior official said on Monday.
This does not include the 188 tonnes of food and medical aid shipped to Kabul last week alone, Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi said at a virtual High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) September 13, 2021
“Qatar reiterated Monday its full solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and its continuous support till they achieve their legitimate demands for stability, security, peace and development,” read a statement by the Gulf state’s foreign ministry [MOFA].
Doha has been at the forefront of evacuations and diplomacy since the Taliban took over Kabul on 15 August, helping transfer more than 50,000 Afghans and foreigners out of Afghanistan.
Some of the evacuees have been temporarily placed at residential compounds while others were accommodated at the US’ Al Udeid Air Base in the Gulf state.
Specialised technical teams have also been sent to repair damages at the Hamid Karzai International Airport over the past couple of weeks, enabling the airport to resume its operations, with Qatar inaugurating the first passenger flights last weekend.
“Based on its belief that achieving comprehensive and sustainable peace is the main factor in improving humanitarian conditions, the State of Qatar has made unremitting and successful efforts over the past years with the aim of supporting the achievement of this desired goal,” said Al Muraikhi.
On Monday morning, a Qatar Airways aircraft carrying up to 23 metric tonnes of medical supplies from the World Health Organization landed in Kabul. The shipment was among the first humanitarian aid deliveries to arrive in the Afghan capital since the fall of the government last month.
“As health needs increase in Afghanistan, we must move quickly to address the shortages in medical supplies to keep life-saving health services running. I thank the Government of the State of Qatar for its generous and timely support, which has allowed WHO to replenish depleted stocks and meet the needs of the most vulnerable Afghans,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO.
According to the UN agency, a second shipment of aid donated by Qatar is also expected to arrive later this week.
These contain essential medical supplies such as insulin, trauma and surgery kits, and Covid-19 testing kits.
“[The shipments] will address the urgent health needs of 1.45 million people and provide for 5400 major and minor surgeries. They will be distributed to 280 health facilities and 31 public Covid-19 laboratories across Afghanistan,” read a statement by the WHO.
However, the need to establish a humanitarian air bridge remains a necessity to ensure Afghans receive adequate assistance.
“The two flights from Qatar will mean that WHO will have airlifted 131 metric tonnes of supplies since 30 August, which are enough to cover the urgent health needs of 2.43 million people and provide for around 19 000 major and minor surgeries,” noted the WHO.
The UN recently said its stockpiles of food in Afghanistan could run out this month, warning of a hunger crisis that will exacerbate the many challenges facing the country.
UN humanitarian Chief in Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov said about one third of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million does not know whether they will have a meal every day.
This echoes previous concerns raised by the World Food Programme [WFP], which said at least $200 million is needed in order to feed people in Afghanistan, especially with winter approaching and amid an ongoing drought.