First PIA flight lands in Afghanistan carrying medical aid from WHO

Published August 30, 2021
The PIA plane flew from Dubai to the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif carrying 12.5 tonnes of supplies. — Photo: PIA Twitter
The PIA plane flew from Dubai to the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif carrying 12.5 tonnes of supplies. — Photo: PIA Twitter
An Afghan woman and children, hoping to leave Afghanistan, walk through the main entrance gate of Kabul airport in Kabul on August 28. — AFP
An Afghan woman and children, hoping to leave Afghanistan, walk through the main entrance gate of Kabul airport in Kabul on August 28. — AFP

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane carrying desperately needed medical supplies landed in Afghanistan on Monday, the World Health Organisation said, the first such flight since the Taliban took control of the country two weeks ago.

Hospitals and clinics are rapidly running out of supplies in the war-ravaged country, and a deadly attack at Kabul airport on Thursday has further complicated the delivery of aid.

The WHO said that the plane, which flew from Dubai to the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, was carrying 12.5 tonnes of supplies that will be delivered to 40 health facilities in 29 provinces across the country.

The supplies — which include trauma and emergency kits — are enough to cover the basic needs of more than 200,000 people, provide 3,500 surgical procedures and treat 6,500 trauma patients, WHO added.

“After days of non-stop work to find a solution [...] we have now been able to partially replenish stocks of health facilities in Afghanistan,” WHO regional director for the eastern Mediterranean Ahmed Al-Mandhari said.

“Humanitarian agencies such as WHO have faced enormous challenges in sending life-saving supplies to Afghanistan in recent weeks due to security and logistics constraints,” Al-Mandhari added.

He further thanked Pakistan for providing the Boeing 777 plane for the delivery.

It was the first of three flights planned with PIA, and the WHO said it is working to ensure “this week's shipment is the first of many”.

PIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arshad Malik said it was the national flag carrier's "moral responsibility" to help people in Afghanistan.

"PIA will continue humanitarian missions on the instructions of the Pakistan government and the aviation minister," he said in a statement.

Afghanistan could soon face a shortage of medical personnel as staff are among those fleeing the country and women health workers are staying away from work out of fear, the WHO warned on Friday.

Read: WHO says only has week of medical supplies left in Afghanistan

Kabul airport has been seized by chaos since the Taliban's lightning-fast takeover of Afghanistan.

Thousands have thronged the site in a desperate bid to leave the country ahead of an August 31 deadline for the American withdrawal.

On Thursday, two suicide bombers struck the crowd outside one of the airport's main gates, killing scores of people, including 13 American service members.


Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui.

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