ISLAMABAD: Pakistan had established a “humanitarian corridor” for the delivery of relief goods to Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday, where roughly 18 million people desperately await humanitarian aid.
Poverty and hunger are spiraling in the war-battered country since foreign aid dried up amid Western distrust of the Taliban, who took over the country on August 15.
Islamabad, which has so far dispatched three C-130 aircraft with food and medical supplies along with a PIA flight delivering World Health Organization (WHO) aid, on Monday warned that a sluggish response from the international community could cause grave humanitarian consequences in Afghanistan.
“We are airlifting humanitarian assistance, food & medicines which will be followed by supplies through land routes,” Qureshi said in a tweet.
Pakistan continues to host more than 3 million Afghan refugees for over four decades and has through the years earmarked “over 1 billion USD for development projects in Afghanistan,” he said, promising to keep facilitating the United Nations by providing logistical support through the country.
A day earlier, Qureshi welcomed the United Nations’ efforts for the much-needed humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, saying the situation was getting “dire” for around 18 million Afghans who were directly in need of humanitarian assistance.
After decades of war and suffering, Afghans are facing “perhaps their most perilous hour,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his opening remarks to a conference in Geneva on Monday, seeking aid for Afghanistan. The UN has urged the world to raise $606 million for Afghanistan, which is home to around 38 million people.
The development came amid reports that food supplies could run out in Afghanistan by the end of this month, after the West abruptly ended all aid to the war-torn nation.
Pakistan and other regional states have been engaged in efforts for an inclusive government in Afghanistan and to avert a looming humanitarian crisis.
Beijing last week announced it would send $31 million worth of food and health supplies, while Islamabad, besides sending supplies such as cooking oil and medicine, called for the unfreezing of Afghan assets held abroad.