Qatar has been praised on a global scale for its swift evacuation of Afghans in “the largest airlift of people in history”.
Qatar’s independent National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) conducted an inspection of conditions for Afghan evacuees in the Gulf state, where thousands have been temporarily hosted in recent weeks after fleeing Afghanistan.
So far, Qatar has evacuated 57,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country on 15 August. Hundreds of Afghans are now living in compounds in Doha, including some that were initially built in preparation for the World Cup 2022.
A number of the evacuees were also placed at US’ military bases, namely Camp As Sayliyah and Al Udeid Air Base, the largest American military outpost in the region.
Assistant Foreign Minister, Lolwah bint Rashid Al Khater received the Deputy Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee Dr. Mohammed bin Saif Al Kuwari and his team at the Umm Al Saneem Center, where hundreds of Afghans have been placed.
The Qatari diplomat, who has been at the forefront of ensuring all evacuees are cared for, met with the inspection team and discussed the evacuation process, reception of evacuees and delivery of aids, including the field hospital and the voluntary work aimed at serving the Afghan evacuees.
Al Kuwari confirmed that all necessary aid, including shelter, food and treatment are being provided, in addition to recreational and educational activities for children.
He also that shelter and aid being provided is covering more than 119 families who sought refuge in Doha, noting that the Qatari government provides more than 60,000 meals per day.
Al Kuwari ensured that field clinics have been provided in temporary accommodation centres, all of which are equipped with integrated medical staff.
Qatar is providing evacuees with PCR testing, access to quarantine, healthcare facilities and vaccination to ensure their safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Al Kuwari confirmed that necessary Covid-related medical examinations have been conducted for people across the centres.
Based on the field visit and the families’ testimonies, the Monitoring and Visits Committee confirmed that the government has met all the criteria required to receive the evacuees from Afghanistan and assured a safe departure to their countries of asylum.
The National Human Rights Committee is currently working on a report that will be sent to international and humanitarian organisations once ready, he said.
Qatar’s evacuation efforts
Last month, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told Fox News that Qatar has taken “full responsibility” for evacuating Afghan civilians and foreigners from Afghanistan.
“We are taking the full responsibility for them [evacuees], taking them to the airport and ensuring their safety throughout. We are trying to facilitate for other countries who don’t have access to reach people who are there on the ground,” said the foreign minister in a televised interview with the American outlet.
Qatar worked closely with the UN, the US and other international partners to ensure Afghans and foreigners are being safely evacuated from Kabul.
The Gulf state shipped 17 tonnes of medical aid and basic food necessities to Kabul’s airport shortly after it re-opened to receive aid on Saturday, the Gulf state’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed, as reports announced plans to resume commercial flights “soon”.
The aid was provided by the Qatar Fund for Development [QFFD] and Qatar Charity, and included food products such as rice, sugar, salt, flour and infant formula.
According to Qatar Charity, the aid is expected to benefit 10,000 families in Afghanistan and will support them for an entire month.
“There are three parties engaged in discussions to resume operations at Kabul Airport. This includes Qatari technicians who have been on the ground for 48 hours to negotiate the steps that need to be taken,” Dr. Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani, Qatar’s Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution said.
The Gulf state – a key mediator between the former Afghan government, the Taliban and Western powers – has placed the resumption of operations on the civilian side of the Hamid Karzai International Airport at the top of its priorities.
International donor conference
Meanwhile, an international donor conference for Afghanistan is expected to take place on 13 September, headed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Geneva.
“Many of us will be there and it is a statement of witness to the obligation and the responsibility of the international community to the people of Afghanistan,” Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the press in Doha on Saturday.
Griffiths’s made the comments shortly after a tour at one of the compounds in Qatar that is temporarily housing Afghan evacuees. He also held meetings with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al Khater.
“Qatar has been a good friend of the humanitarian world for many years, it’s partly a donor, but it’s more than that,” added Griffiths.
On Thursday, the UN said its stockpiles of food in Afghanistan could run out this month, warning of a hunger crisis that will exacerbate the many challenges facing the country.
UN humanitarian chief in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov said about one third of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million does not know whether they will have a meal every day.
This echoes previous concerns raised by the WFP, which said at least $200 million is needed in order to feed people in Afghanistan, especially with winter approaching and amid an ongoing drought.