New York, October 2, 2001 — This week, three charter planes are bringing a total of 115 tons of humanitarian relief supplies to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in and around Afghanistan. MSF will use these supplies to maintain and reinforce its current programs and to be fully prepared in the event of a new emergency.
A plane carrying 37.5 tons of supplies arrives today in Osh, Kyrgysztan. On board are 10 tons of medical materials for MSF's ongoing projects in Faizabad and Ishkashim in the area of Afghanistan held by the Northern Alliance. The cargo flight is also transporting 8.5 tons of high-protein food in addition to medical kits, materials for water supplies, and five mobile clinic tents.
A second charter is scheduled to land today in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. It carries 40 tons of medicines, medical kits, water and sanitation materials, tents, and vehicles. Later this week, a third cargo flight will arrive in Ashgabat carrying 38 tons of emergency materials, mostly surgical and medical kits, as well as water and sanitation items.
Together, these and locally bought supplies will enable MSF teams in the region to provide increased assistance to Afghan civilians, either in their own country or, should they flee to neighboring states, in refugee settlements. The supplies can also serve to reinforce MSF's projects inside Afghanistan from which all international staff were forced to evacuate following the September 11 attacks in the United States.
MSF medical relief teams are currently located in Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The organization continues to maintain medical relief programs in the Northern Alliance-held regions of northeastern Afghanistan. In Taliban-held Afghanistan, MSF teams left behind stocks to enable ongoing projects to remain open. Additional supplies have been transported to the Mazar-e-Sharif region over the past two weeks. MSF is also assisting the current refugee populations in camps near Peshawar, Pakistan, and Mashad, Iran.
With winter approaching, MSF is concerned that the possibilities for bringing relief to the people of Afghanistan are ebbing away. Warfare, drought, disease, and a lack of basic health care had already created a dire humanitarian situation in Taliban-held areas before MSF international staff evacuated due to security concerns following the September 11 attacks.
MSF has been working in Afghanistan continuously since 1979. Before the recent evacuation of all international relief workers from Afghanistan, MSF international staff of 70 and local staff of over 400 ran medical and nutritional relief programs throughout the country.