The World Health Organization (WHO) said during an online briefing on Tuesday its current medical supplies in Afghanistan will only last a week amid the chaos of U.S. evacuations and the new Taliban rule over the country.
"We rapidly distributed lifesaving supplies to health facilities and partners in Kabul, Kandahar and Kunduz, but WHO now only has enough supplies in country to last for one week. Yesterday 70 percent of these supplies were released to health facilities," WHO regional director Ahmed Al-Mandhari said.
The country apparently has 95 percent of its health facilities open despite the turmoil, but some female employees and patients have not returned due to fear regarding how the Taliban are going to treat women’s rights.
WHO regional emergency director Richard Brennan told Reuters the agency is working with four countries to secure flights with resources as medical supplies have been delayed due to restrictions at the Kabul airport during the U.S.-led evacuations.
"We have had some encouraging signs and encouraging communications, that the Taliban authorities have made it clear that they want the United Nations to stay, that they want the continuity of health services," Brennan said.
"We remain cautiously optimistic that we will be able to get our operation back at increasing scale over the coming weeks,” he added.
The WHO’s regional office for the Eastern Mediterranean released a statement Sunday calling for the “immediate and unimpeded access to deliver medicines and other lifesaving supplies to millions of people in need of aid.”
The office said even before the Taliban takeover and evacuations this past week, Afghanistan was its the third largest humanitarian operation.
There are 18 million people who need assistance with no way to get supplies to them, the statement reads.
“Conflict, displacement, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic are all contributing to a complex and desperate situation in Afghanistan. Humanitarian agencies need to be supported and facilitated to meet the enormous and growing needs in Afghanistan, and make sure that no one dies unnecessarily due to lack of access to aid,” the office says.