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Children from Kunduz sleep on a cloth covering the hard ground in the darkness of the makeshift camp at Shahr-e-Naw Park in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 14. Photo: Marcus Yam/LOS ANGELES TIMES

The World Health Organization only has enough medical supplies on the ground in Afghanistan to last a week, after shipments of supplies were blocked due to restrictions at the Kabul airport, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: An estimated 18 million Afghans, roughly half the total population, were in need of humanitarian assistance as of last month.

State of play: More than 500 tonnes (551 tons) of supplies — including surgical equipment and severe malnutrition kits — arriving from Dubai were held up at the Kabul airport, the WHO said during an online briefing Tuesday, per Reuters.

  • While officials warned the situation was deteriorating, the agency remained "cautiously optimistic" that deliveries will be back on track and ramping up soon, Richard Brennan, the WHO's regional emergency director, said.
  • "We have had some encouraging signs and encouraging communications, that the Taliban authorities have made it clear that they want the United Nations to stay, that they want the continuity of health services," Brennan said, per Reuters.

The big picture: The Taliban's rapid takeover of the country and the chaotic evacuation efforts have compounded an already existing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

  • The "harrowing humanitarian situation – aggravated by sustained drought, the COVID-19 pandemic, and significant shortfalls in enabling economic, social and cultural rights – has further deepened with recent events," United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet noted in a speech Tuesday.
  • The WHO is especially worried the recent chaos in the country will drive up COVID-19 infections, per Reuters.

Go deeper

Zalmay Khalilzad steps down as Afghanistan envoy

Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

Zalmay Khalilzad stepped down as special envoy for Afghanistan peace talks on Monday, two months after the Taliban seized control of Kabul in a disastrous conclusion to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: Khalilzad was the architect of the Trump administration's 2019 peace deal with the Taliban, which the head of U.S. Central Command called "the primary accelerant to lowering morale and general efficiency of the Afghan military."

Study: Fear of debt keeps Latinos out of college

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fear of never being able to pay off school loans is keeping many young Latinos in the U.S. from going to college or completing a degree, according to a report published in September.

State of play: Latinos tend to have more difficulty repaying school debt than white student borrowers, according to Federal Reserve data, at the same time that they need more loans in order to afford tuition.

55 mins ago - World

Scoop: Biden administration objects to Israeli settlements plan

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (L) meets with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has privately protested to the Israeli government over its plan to approve the planning and construction of more than 3,000 new housing units in the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: The approvals for new homes in the settlements will be the first since President Biden assumed office, and come after Biden and his top aides personally pressed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to restrain settlement activity and decrease the number of new housing units.