India sends medical aid to Afghanistan

India joins Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, Turkmenistan who earlier sent humanitarian assistance to the Taliban-ruled country

December 11, 2021 11:27 am | Updated 09:44 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Vehicles loaded with supplies at Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan. File

Vehicles loaded with supplies at Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan. File

In a significant gesture, India on Saturday supplied the first consignment of materials as part of humanitarian assistance to help the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan deal with the deteriorating health situation in the country.

India has not recognised the Taliban administration in Afghanistan and has urged the international community to proceed cautiously in dealing with the Taliban because of uncertain security guarantees and the outfit’s rigid position on human rights-related issues.

“In view of the challenging humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Government of India has dispatched humanitarian assistance consisting of medical supplies on the return flight today. These medicines will be handed over to the representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Kabul and will be administered at the Indira Gandhi Children Hospital, Kabul,” a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs announced.

The consignment consisting of medicines and injections were sent in the special Kam Air flight that had flown in with 10 Indians and 94 Afghan minority community members on Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs said. The boxes carrying the items were marked with stickers bearing the words — Gift from the People of India to the People of Afghanistan.

With Saturday's move, India joined countries like Iran, Qatar, UAE, Turkmenistan and Pakistan that have sent humanitarian support to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. In a speech delivered on September 13, External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar had sought “unimpeded, unrestricted and direct access to Afghanistan” for ensuring supply of humanitarian assistance to the general Afghan population who are dealing with a harsh winter and a breakdown in medical supplies. Help is also required for the large number of internally displaced persons living in temporary and unsafe shelters.

Since August, the Taliban regime has been seeking international help to operate the Kabul airport and to supply essential medicines to hospitals in the country. Afghanistan’s leading hospitals including the Indira Gandhi Children Hospital in Kabul, had exhausted supplies of anaesthetics necessary for surgical procedures which prompted Taliban’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar to reach out to the UNDP in Doha.

This is the first time that India has sent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan after the Taliban took over Kabul by dislodging the government of President Ashraf Ghani in August. This is an important development as it is likely to be followed by the large scale humanitarian assistance from India to Afghanistan which will be supplied through a transit facility from Pakistan.

It was reported earlier that India is unlikely to recognise the Taliban administration though there is a possibility that there could be medical, educational and other kinds of exchanges between both sides.

As part of the Operation Devi Shakti, which was launched in August to evacuate Indians and Afghan minority community members from the strife torn country, the Government has evacuated a total of 669 people from Afghanistan. This includes 448 Indians who were working on various projects and businesses and 206 Afghan nationals.

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