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Thursday, October 28, 2021

WHO chief in Qatar as ‘largest’ evacuation flight since withdrawal departs Kabul


The largest passenger flight since the end of August landed in Qatar on Sunday.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization [WHO] met Afghans evacuated from Kabul in Qatar on Sunday, during a visit to one of the housing units temporarily accommodating those who fled the country.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Qatar’s “generous support” to Afghan evacuees, describing the operation as “impressive”.

We thank Qatar for its generous support to the people of Afghanistan through medical and aid supply flights, including WHO’s, and hosting evacuees. Impressive whole of government and whole of society approach to helping the Afghan people,” tweeted Ghebreyesus, following his tour at the compound in the Qatari capital.

The senior global health official toured the facility with Qatar’s Minister of Public Health Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari and Director of the Qatar Fund For Development [QFFD] Khalifa Al-Kuwari, along with several members of the Gulf state’s foreign ministry.

The officials also checked in on a range of services at the compound, including health facilities as well as a nursery that runs daily activities for the children in collaboration with Generation Amazing.

The compound was initially built for the FIFA World Cup 2022 but was opened up to accommodate the evacuees while they await necessary documents to continue their travels.

Qatar’s health workforce has been mobilised to provide health care in the compound, including immunisation, mental health support, paediatric care, maternity and newborn services, and other essential care. My deep gratitude to these health workers for their great work,” added the WHO official.

Qatar’s monetary assistance to Afghanistan to reach $50 million: official

He also met some of the Afghan evacuees at the compound, including journalists, doctors and artists, along with their children.

“One of them is Leila. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up. We must stay and deliver so that Leila and other Afghan children can reach their dreams!” said Dr. Ghebreyesus.

In a meeting ahead of the tour, the officials discussed Qatar’s support for health in Afghanistan, where millions are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance following decades of war, corruption and drought.

Last week, a Qatar Airways aircraft carrying up to 23 metric tonnes of medical supplies from the WHO landed in Kabul. The shipment was among the first humanitarian aid deliveries to arrive in the Afghan capital since the fall of the government last month.

The shipment contained essential medical supplies such as insulin, trauma and surgery kits, and Covid-19 testing kits and aim to address the needs of 1.45 million people and provide for 54,000 major and minor surgeries at 280 health facilities.

“I’m moved by the government and people’s commitment, kindness & generosity in responding to calls for support in Afghanistan. They are setting a good example that I hope other countries will follow. WHO will stay and deliver help to all the Afghan people,” added Dr. Ghebreyesus.

In addition to daily aid flights operating from Doha-to-Kabul, Qatar Airways was the first to operate passenger flights from Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the largest flight to depart Kabul since the completion of the troop withdrawal on 31 August arrived in Qatar carrying 236 passengers. It was also the fourth passenger flight operating between the two countries.

A senior Qatari government official said the flight carried citizens from the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Finland and Italy among others.

“Qatar will continue its collaboration with international partners on efforts that ensure freedom of movement in Afghanistan, while working with various parties on the ground towards more general progress in the country moving forward,” said the Qatari government official.

Doha has been at the forefront of global evacuation efforts since the Taliban’s sudden takeover of Kabul on 15 August.

The Gulf state has managed to evacuate more than 55,000 people, some of which have been placed at the US-run Al Udeid Air Base while others are being temporarily housed at residential compounds in Doha.

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