UNHCR, QATAR GOVERNMENT START AIRLIFT OF ESSENTIAL WINTER ITEMS TO KABUL
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with support from the State of Qatar, delivered Wednesday a shipment of desperately needed aid to Afghanistan, the first of several emergency airlifts to arrive in the coming days. The essential relief items will help displaced and vulnerable families brace themselves against the harsh winter weather, as economic and humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan continue to deteriorate.
This first airlift to arrive in Kabul included 28 tons of solar lamps and thermal blankets to be distributed to displaced Afghans most in need. It is part of an overall 91 tons of UNHCR winter items that Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) are supporting UNHCR’s winterization program with, by airlifting them from Doha to Kabul to support vulnerable Afghans.
“Qatar believes that the support from various UN agencies is vital for this critical and difficult period in Afghan history. We will spare no effort in facilitating such important aid and ensuring it reaches the families in need in Afghanistan. We hope that the international community will step up its efforts to elevate the humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan,” said H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar and Chairman of the Board of QFFD.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi welcomed this support, saying, “this contribution comes at a critical time. Winter has arrived, compounding the hardship faced by millions of displaced Afghans. Qatar’s support will help enable UNHCR to reach the most vulnerable with essential winter assistance. It is yet another example of Qatar’s leading role in support of humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan and beyond.”
Nearly 700,000 displaced Afghans have fled their homes this year alone due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, 80 per cent of whom are women and children. The COVID-19 pandemic has also compounded the severity of the emergency with dire socio-economic and health impacts.
UNHCR has scaled up its winter response programme to protect and assist 3.5 million internally displaced Afghans and 2.2 million registered Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries including Iran and Pakistan, with some 700,000 people assisted inside Afghanistan since the start of this year.
The State of Qatar, which is also a Core Group member of the Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, has long been a strong partner of UNHCR, supporting its operations around the world to assist refugees and the forcibly displaced globally.