KABUL: The UN refugee agency has begun airlifting humanitarian aid into Kabul for the first time since Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, with a plane carrying 33 tons of supplies for displaced Afghans.
UN will airlifts two more aid cargoes this month, but UN refugee officials say far more is needed than they or their colleagues at the World Food Program (WFP) are able to supply.
“We are using land, sea and air routes to bring humanitarian relief into Afghanistan,” said spokesperson Shabia Mantoo. “Further relief supplies have also been prepositioned in Uzbekistan, ready to be trucked into Afghanistan as needed.”
The WFP also is ratcheting up with 170 trucks delivering assistance daily across Afghanistan.
U.N. officials say much more is needed, however, to prevent Afghanistan from plunging deeper into a humanitarian crisis that many fear will exceed the misery of war-torn Syria or Yemen.
Temperatures are rapidly decreasing, worsening the plight of impoverished Afghans, especially the 3.5 million estimated to have been displaced by conflict. U.N. officials say they have received only half of the $606 million they say is needed to help 11 million Afghans through the end of 2021.
More than half of the country’s 38 million people are likely to go hungry this winter unless more funds are forthcoming from rich countries, according to international relief agencies.
“We believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told a U.S. Senate panel last month.