India stands with the people of Afghanistan in their time of need

On Friday (Jan 7, 2021), India has supplied the third batch of medical assistance to Afghanistan. The humanitarian assistance meant for the Afghan people consists of two tons of essential life saving medicines and has been handed over to the Indira Gandhi Hospital, Kabul. According to an official statement of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), “In the coming weeks, India would be supplying more humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.”

The next batches will consist of food grains and medicines. As has been reported earlier, India has recently sent 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 1.6 tons of medical assistance to that country through the World Health Organisation (WHO).India has now joined countries like Iran, Qatar, UAE, Turkmenistan and Pakistan who have sent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan under Taliban 2.0.Though India has not recognized the Taliban led government in Afghanistan, it continues its commitment to our special relationship with the people of that country.

Last month, India had sent the first batch of materials as part of the assistance to help the people of that country who have to deal with poor health facilities in that country under Taliban. Because of uncertain security guarantees and Taliban’s position on human-rights related issues, India has urged the international community to be cautious while dealing with the administration of that country.

In December, the consignment sent from India was of medicines and injections on the special Kam Air Flight – it was the same flight which had brought back 10 Indians and 94 minority community members of Afghan origin to India. According to the MEA, the boxes had stickers – “Gift from the People of India to the people of Afghanistan.”

After the fall of Afghanistan on August 15 to Taliban 2.0, external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar had in a speech in September 2021, sought “direct access, unrestricted and unimpeded’’ for ensuring humanitarian assistance reaching the general population of that country. Earlier this month the second tranche of the humanitarian assistance including 5 lakh doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 jab – Covaxin were dispatched. This consignment went on board a flight of Iran’s Mahan Air. These were handed over to the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Kabul.

In 2021, India had announced its plans to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat and medicines by road through Pakistan to Afghanistan. The Taliban administration has been seeking help from the international community to operate the Kabul airport and essential medicines for the hospitals. Leading hospitals like Indira Gandhi Children Hospital in Kabul were unable to carry out surgical procedures due to the lack of anesthetics. When the country was facing such a critical shortage, Taliban’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar had then reached out to the UNDP in Doha.

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