Afghanistan’s border agencies have received personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to help combat the spread of coronavirus. The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), an international organisation, has provided infrared thermometers, N95 Masks and PPE gowns, gloves and sanitation supplies, thanks to the generous financial support of the European Union. The equipment will be used at border crossing points by the Afghan Border Police (Ministry of Interior Affairs), Afghan Customs (Ministry of Finance) and the Afghan Border Security Force (Ministry of Defence).
This equipment will allow officers working at Afghanistan’s border crossing points and land-borders to protect themselves when screening travellers, disinfect surfaces and isolate sick travellers at the borders, in line with international good practices. These steps may help prevent the spread of the disease as well as allowing border crossings to remain open for business. Keeping borders operational means medical equipment and doctors from third countries can enter Afghanistan, as well as allowing cross-border trade integral to the national economy to continue uninterrupted.
‘’Our support to Afghan border agencies is part of EU’s overall commitment to strengthen Afghanistan’s regional dimension and connectivity. In particular, this financial contribution comes in addition to the 146 million Euro that the EU has already committed to Afghanistan in its fight against COVID-19’’, said Pierre Mayaudon, EU Ambassador to Afghanistan.
“The Government of Afghanistan and ICMPD will need to continue our close cooperation to ensure Afghanistan’s border agencies have the tools and knowledge necessary to respond to crisis such as COVID-19. Supporting the future development of Afghanistan’s borders is necessary to protect against such risks in parallel with allowing the well-managed movement of people and goods across borders”, said Sedef Dearing, Regional Coordinator for the Silk Routes Region, ICMPD.
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an unprecedented world-wide chain-reaction of border closures and disruptions to global mobility in an effort to stop the virus. As an immediate priority, protecting border officials from the virus and attempting to detect potential COVID cases transiting borders is key to allow a return to regular operations. In the long-term, border agencies will need to step up their capacities on health-related issues, including crisis management and contingency planning. It will also be important that all relevant border agencies identify ways to work together efficiently, including border police, customs authorities, and national sanitary and health authorities among others.
The mobilization and coordination of substantial donor efforts do require full accountability, transparency and timely information about procurement and import of equipment as well as its distribution and the actual implementation at local level.
The PPE equipment was provided with the support of an existing European Union funded project implemented by ICMPD aimed at supporting the development of an Integrated Border Management approach in Afghanistan. This project aims to support the Government of Afghanistan effectively and efficiently manage national borders. ICMPD was able to rapidly mobilise to respond to requests for support from Afghanistan’s border agencies and distribute the PPE equipment in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.