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UN Geneva round-up: Haiti earthquake, Kabul airport chaos, Ebola in Côte d'Ivoire

A man prepares a mound of sand to bury and burn wood as he makes charcoal for cooking in Les Cayes, Haiti, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, six days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area. (Keystone/ AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A summary of the most critical issues being discussed at the United Nations in Geneva this week.

Haiti earthquake rescue efforts continue as death toll mounts. Over 2,000 people have been killed by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Haiti on Saturday. An estimated 215,000 people require emergency food in Nippes, Sud and Grand'Anse, a spokesperson for the UN in Geneva told journalists on Friday. The World Food Programme is calling for $2.5m dollars to sustain its air, sea, and road supply lines. Emergency food assistance needs to reach 4.4 million Haitians, nearly half the population. Political instability and gang violence were already taking their toll before the earthquake hit.

Côte d’Ivoire starts Ebola vaccination of frontline workers. The country on Monday began vaccinating high risk populations after the discovery of its first outbreak in 25 years. The first case of Ebola was confirmed in the population centre of Abidjan, home to almost five million people, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday. Vaccinations began within 48 hours of the outbreak, with Guinea sending vaccines manufactured by Merck that it had received from the WHO to fight an outbreak earlier this year. A spokesperson for the health body said no connection between the two outbreaks has been established. The WHO is working with the government to implement response efforts and contact tracing is underway.

Taliban solidifies control, international community sceptical about promises. Kabul’s international airport remains thronged as people seek to evacuate after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan this week, with the majority of Kabul, the capital, falling on Sunday.

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The chaotic airport scenes come amid reports of targeted searches by the Taliban for people who worked for Nato forces or for the previous Afghan government.

Thousands of people have been flown out of Kabul airport since Sunday on military planes sent by US and other western powers.

Shabia Mantoo, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on Friday said it welcomes the bilateral evacuation agreements but these programmes do not negate the need for other countries to grant asylum to Afghan refugees, she said, reiterating calls to neighbouring countries to keep their borders open.

More funds needed. The UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan has received only 37 per cent of the necessary funding for the year and only four per cent of the money required for emergency shelter and relief, Alessandra Vellucci, director of the United Nations Information Service, said on Friday.

Read also:Humanitarian organisations hold firm in Afghanistan as Taliban take over

The country’s health system, already impacted by Covid-19, also risks coming under increasing strain, WHO officials have warned.  Most major health facilities in Afghanistan remain in operation, but the health situation is at risk of deteriorating further as the influx of internally displaced persons to camps makes it ever more difficult to adhere to infection prevention protocols, a spokesperson for the organisation said.