TERMEZ -- International aid to Afghanistan has begun to arrive via Uzbekistan, which is using the Termez Cargo Centre as a critical transport hub for deliveries.
A Ukraine International Airlines plane arrived in Termez on October 15, carrying a 32-tonne relief shipment from Dubai. The first delivery was followed by many others since.
Organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the humanitarian aid will go to Mazar-e-Sharif by truck.
"The cargo contains essential supplies. There are tents, dishes and blankets," Nodir Jalilov, director of the Termez Cargo Centre, told Caravanserai.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has also been providing assistance to Afghanistan via Uzbekistan since early October, Jalilov said.
The Termez Cargo Centre was built in 2016 with the goal of bolstering trade between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
It is the only cargo terminal in Central Asia built next to the Afghan border.
In addition to funneling aid to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan is independently helping its neighbour. In September alone, it sent 1,400 tonnes of flour and flour products to Afghanistan.
Gateway to Afghanistan
Termez's location makes the city a strategic hub, including from a logistics standpoint.
The city is one of few gateways to isolated Afghanistan, first and foremost for humanitarian supplies.
A railway and highway lead south to Afghanistan from Termez over the Friendship Bridge.
To facilitate aid, the Uzbek government granted the Taliban access to several facilities in Surxondaryo (Surkhandarya) province, a border region.
"Uzbekistan doesn't want Afghanistan to fall into a deep humanitarian crisis... If there's unrest there and people suffer, we can't stand on the sidelines, especially that the consequences will affect us too if we don't help," said Farkhod Mirzabayev, an Uzbek political analyst.
Mirzabayev urged Taliban authorities to leverage all their internal resources as much as possible and make every effort to prevent a humanitarian crisis in their country.
They alone are now accountable to their people in this regard, he said.
Ascending to power violently is one thing. Successfully governing the country and achieving a positive result are an entirely different thing, Mirzabayev said.
"The current situation will become a major ordeal for the viability of the new Afghan government. But it sometimes seems like it doesn't grasp the full magnitude of the situation and it's continuing to focus on the wrong matters," Mirzabayev said.
"Is it really most important right now to curtail women's rights?"