The World Health Organization is monitoring 2,200 health facilities in Afghanistan’s 34 provinces but they look to have only a few days of supplies left, with the airport in the capital Kabul not looking safe as a gateway after terror attacks, a WHO official said Friday.
At a UN press conference, Dr. Rick Brennan, the WHO’s regional emergency director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, said medical supplies might have to start coming through Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in northern Afghanistan.
At the same press conference, UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Rupert Colville condemned Thursday’s terror attack around Kabul airport by the ISIS-K terrorist group – the Afghan affiliate of Daesh/ISIS – which killed at least 110 people.
“The terrorist attack at Kabul airport yesterday was a horrendous move,” said Colville, describing it as an “attack specifically designed to cause carnage.”
“It was clearly calculated to kill and maim as many people as possible: civilians – children, women, fathers, mothers, as well as Taliban, and foreign forces protecting the airport.”
Brennan said that there are multiple security and logistics constraints at Kabul airport.
“We expect that we will be able to bring in more supplies in the coming days with the support of the Pakistan government,” he said, explaining that Kabul airport is not “is not an option for bringing in humanitarian supplies” at this stage.
“And so, we are likely to use Mazar-i-Sharif airport,” said Brennan.
He added, “The more sobering news is that these health facilities are rapidly running out of health medical supplies, and the WHO is not currently able to meet these needs.”
WHO has only a few days of supplies left and is exploring all options to bring more medicines into Afghanistan.
Brennan said although that tens of thousands of “vulnerable Afghans” are being evacuated through the air operation at Kabul airport, millions will remain behind, and the WHO has continued to assist them.
The WHO official said that even before recent events, Afghanistan represented the world’s third-largest humanitarian operation, with more than 18 million people in need facing conflict, displacement, and drought amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The UN is committed to staying and delivering in Afghanistan and the WHO stands together with our other UN partners in that commitment,” said Brennan.
“Of course, in an insecure and volatile setting, our first priority will always remain the safety and security of our staff.”
Alessandra Vellucci, director of the UN Information Service in Geneva, said that the UN has slightly more than 100 international staffers in Afghanistan and some 3,000 local workers.
The Taliban taking power in Afghanistan has led to thousands of Afghans who fear retribution and uncertainty trying to flee the country.