UN flies winter aid to displaced Afghans

FILE PHOTO: Displaced Afghan women wait for UNHCR agency assistance outside the distribution center outside Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 28, 2021. REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra / File Photo

GENEVA, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The UN refugee agency UNHCR on Tuesday began airlifting supplies to Kabul to help hundreds of thousands of displaced Afghans build shelters for the winter.

UNHCR said a first plane will arrive in the country on Tuesday, with 33 tons of equipment containing floors and partitions to improve the insulation of the tents. Two more flights are scheduled to be chartered on November 4 and 7.

“More resources are urgently needed to reach all who need help to survive the harsh winter ahead,” UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo told a briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR said it is making preparations to provide winter assistance to some 500,000 displaced Afghans, returnees and local host communities by the end of 2021.

This year it has already provided aid including shelters, food, blankets and stoves for half a million Afghans.

Afghanistan plunged into a crisis in August after Taliban fighters ousted the Western-backed government, prompting various donors to withhold billions of dollars for an economy dependent on foreign aid.

Many Afghans are selling their possessions to buy food, as the Taliban are unable to pay salaries to public workers, and urban communities face food insecurity similar to that in rural areas for the first time.

Various aid groups are urging countries, concerned about human rights under the Taliban regime, to work with the new rulers to avoid a collapse that they say could trigger a migration crisis similar to the 2015 exodus from Syria that shook Europe.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, edited by William Maclean; translation by Darío Fernández)


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