More than 500 tonnes of medical supplies including severe malnutrition kits and surgical equipment due in Afghanistan this week are stuck because of Kabul airport restrictions, the World Health Organisation has warned.  

Aid agencies say that 300,000 people are in desperate need of medicines and food after they were displaced by the rampant advance of the Taliban over the last two months.   

Nearly 18.5 million people – half the population – rely on aid and the humanitarian needs are expected to grow due to drought.

But the airport has been closed to commercial jets, with nearly 7,000 people still outside Kabul airport desperate to flee the Taliban. 

Germany on Sunday flew in a military jet with supplies to help improve the situation at the airport, including dummies and cuddly toys for small children. 

Members of the American Red Cross provide food, supplies and toiletries to evacuees during Operation Allies Refuge, on Friday

A German soldier loading aid supplies at Tashkent airport, Uzbekistan before takeoff for Kabul, on Sunday

Afghan evacuees receive hygiene and cleaning supplies from Red Cross volunteers at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Saturday

A crowded refugee camp in Germany housing people who have been evacuated from Kabul by the US military

Back in Europe, refugee centres are already struggling to cope.  

In the Netherlands, officials said that a temporary accommodation centre for Afghan evacuees at an army barracks is full and a second location is being opened.

The Dutch defence ministry says it has made six evacuation flights out of Kabul, each flight carrying 800 people, including Dutch nationals, Afghans and citizens of other countries. 

The WHO, however, is urging the evacuation aircraft to take humanitarian supplies on their outward journeys. 

‘While the eyes of the world now are on the people being evacuated and the planes leaving, we need to get supplies in to help those who are left behind,’ WHO regional emergency director Dr. Richard Brennan told Reuters.

He said the WHO was calling for empty planes to divert to its warehouse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to collect the supplies on their way to pick up evacuees from Afghanistan.

The United States has enlisted six commercial airlines to help move Afghan evacuees, however Washington and NATO coalition partners have so far indicated that they cannot bring supplies on incoming evacuation planes due to ‘operational constraints and security concerns’, Brennan said.

‘The U.S. is using these commercial airlines only for evacuation,’ he said, adding that the WHO was exploring various options and reaching out to other governments.

‘We have been advised to explore options at other airports such as Kandahar, Jalalabad and Bagram air bases. We do not yet have aircraft to fly even to those bases.’ 

An Afghan refugee, Maryam, next to her children, looks at a picture of her 6-year-old son as they stay in an hotel room in Paris on Saturday

A German soldier loading supplies at Tashkent airport, Uzbekistan, on Sunday

A camp in Germany for refugees flown back from Afghanistan

The executive director of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, said on Monday around 10 million children across Afghanistan need humanitarian assistance and that conditions are expected to deteriorate further. 

Germany’s top military commander, Gen. Eberhard Zorn, said that supplies were flown in on Sunday in an effort to improve the situation inside the airport. 

Zorn said he couldn’t say what proportion of people at the airport are children or families. But he said that, on Germany’s flights, about 50% of the Afghans evacuated were women.

Germany flew in supplies on Sunday in an effort to help improve the situation inside the airport. Zorn said they included diapers, pacifiers and cuddly toys for small children, as well as food for children. More supplies are in the pipeline.

‘The situation in front of the gates remains difficult, I would also call it dramatic, because the accumulation of people interested in getting into the airport grounds is enormously high (and) additional potential for violence is arising on the ground in this group,’ Zorn said. 

Source: Sound Health and Lasting Wealth

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