The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF on Sunday called for the creation of a "humanitarian airbridge," in order to give commercial aircrafts the ability to deliver medicine and other aid supplies to people in need across Afghanistan.
The UN agencies said in a statement that the humanitarian needs of Afghans "should not and cannot be neglected," as the U.S. and other foreign nations rush to evacuate citizens and allies after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban last week.
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But with no commercial aircrafts currently permitted to enter the Kabul airport, the agencies warned that humanitarian groups have no way of getting supplies into the country for those in need.
"WHO and UNICEF call for the immediate establishment of a humanitarian airbridge for the sustained and unimpeded delivery of aid into Afghanistan. We are also closely following up with all UN and international partners to explore options for expediting aid shipments," the agencies said.
Even before the Taliban's recent takeover of Afghanistan, the agencies said that the country required the world's third-largest humanitarian operation, with more than 18 million people needing help.
"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," they stated.
Escape From Afghanistan
Even those with a visa must endure harrowing conditions on their way to freedom. At this point the phrase is too generous. In the spring of 1940, British and French forces were rescued from Dunkirk by a collaboration between the British government and ordinary people sailing their own vessels into the English Channel; it was a miraculous success. Thus far, only a fraction of endangered Afghans have gotten out of the country. The private rescue effort in Afghanistan is basically running separate from the United States government’s Operation Allies Refuge; it became necessary because the official evacuation is beset by chaos and bureaucratic blockage.
The statement comes as the U.S. and other countries continue evacuation operations across Afghanistan. On Sunday, the U.S. Defense Department called upon commercial airlines to assist in the ongoing evacuation efforts by activating the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) for only the third time in history. That means American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Airlines, Omni Air, Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines will provide a total of 18 aircraft to support the evacuation of citizens and personnel.
However, the commercial jets are not expected to fly in or out of the Kabul airport, but rather to help ferry thousands stranded at U.S. bases in Qatar, Bahrain and Germany.
The scene at the Kabul airport has been gripped by panic and uncertainty in recent days, with reports that Americans attempting to evacuate the area could face terrorist attacks by the Islamic State group (ISIS) or threats from the Taliban.
Afghanistan. How are Afghan refugees distributed in the world?
The U.S. embassy on Saturday told citizens "to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so," over potential security threats. A day later, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the threat of attack is "real" and said that U.S. officials are using "every tool in our arsenal," to protect the safety of Americans.
According to the Pentagon about 17,000 people, including 2,500 Americans, have so far been evacuated from Kabul. By Sunday it was unclear how many Americans are still in Afghanistan, though Sullivan estimated that it is still "several thousand."
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Afghans are looking to flee the country in fear of being brutalized or killed by the Taliban. Since seizing power last weekend, the militant group has attempted to portray a message that it will not violate human rights. But several reports have so far indicated that women are being beaten and tortured, and that people are being executed.
As international evacuation efforts are ongoing, the WHO and UNICEF said Sunday that they will continue to stay in Afghanistan and deliver all possible aid to Afghans in need.
‘All Afghans’ should feel safe under Taliban, says security chief
Haqqani tells Al Jazeera that Afghans should not fear Taliban, but many remain sceptical their safety will be assured.Speaking to Al Jazeera on Sunday, Haqqani, whose associates are also taking a leading role in establishing security in the capital, said the Taliban is working to restore order and safety to a nation that has seen more than four decades of war.
"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," the agencies said.
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Unaccompanied Afghan evacuee children in Qatar limbo .
The daily life of unaccompanied Afghan refugee children in Qatar is punctuated by recurring questions, "where are we going?" and "can I have some chips". About 200 uprooted young Afghans arrived in Doha aboard flights from Kabul in recent weeks and are being hosted at a reception centre, where they grapple with the trauma of their ordeals. They are now being cared for by Qatar Charity, a humanitarian organisation that has sought to protect them from prying eyes and keep them out of the reaches of people traffickers.