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Kabul airport curbs blocking medical supplies for Afghans -WHO

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By Reuters
WHO says cannot fly medical supplies into Afghanistan
WHO says cannot fly medical supplies into Afghanistan   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Emma Farge

GENEVA -More than 500 tonnes of medical supplies including surgical equipment and severe malnutrition kits due to be delivered to Afghanistan this week are stuck because of Kabul airport restrictions, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

Aid agencies say it is critical that medical and food supplies reach some 300,000 people displaced in Afghanistan over the past two months amid advances by the Islamist Taliban insurgents that culminated in the capture of Kabul on Aug. 15.

Nearly 18.5 million people – half the population – rely on aid and the humanitarian needs are expected to grow due to drought. But the closure of Kabul airport to commercial flights has held up deliveries, WHO regional emergency director Dr. Richard Brennan told Reuters.

“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,” Brennan said in an emailed statement.

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 the country.

The WHO is also looking at setting up a “humanitarian air bridge” to send in supplies, Brennan added.

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.