The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), operated by the World Food Programme (WFP), is resuming flights to enable 160 humanitarian organizations to continue their life-saving activities in Afghanistan's provinces, said a UN spokesman on Thursday.
The air passenger service is currently linking the Pakistani capital of Islamabad to Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar in Afghanistan, with three flights already having taken place to Mazar-i-Sharif since Sunday, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
All efforts are being made to step up operations as soon as possible and increase the number of flown-to destinations in Afghanistan. In addition, a cargo air bridge is being established to transport non-food items, such as medical and other emergency supplies to where they are needed the most, he quoted the WFP as saying.
The Afghan capital of Kabul remains inaccessible by air at the moment, said the spokesman.
"That airport is not yet operational, for us at least. We, obviously, very much hope that it will be in the near future. I think access to airports throughout Afghanistan is very important given the difficulty of often traveling by road. And obviously the airport in Kabul is, indeed, very important for us to be able to rotate staff and bring in goods."
UNHAS' domestic passenger service requires 18 million U.S. dollars, and 12 million dollars is required for the cargo air bridge. Both services will be utilized by the entire humanitarian community, said the spokesman.
From 2002 to 2021, UNHAS served more than 20 destinations in Afghanistan. It will seek to return to these locations once security and funding permits, he said.