As the need grows in Afghanistan, aid groups call for help
KABUL, Afghanistan — The health care system in Afghanistan is on the verge of collapse, international aid groups warned this week, threatening to deepen the country’s humanitarian crisis as temperatures begin to drop.
Thousands of health care facilities have run out of essential medicines. Afghan doctors haven’t been paid in two months, don’t see any salaries. According to the World Health Organization, there has been an increase in cases of measles and diarrhea in recent weeks.
For two decades, aid from the World Bank and other international donors fueled the country’s health care system, but after the Taliban came to power, they amassed $600 million in health care aid.
Now, just over a month into Taliban rule, the toll is becoming apparent.
Alexander Mathou, Asia Pacific director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: “We are deeply concerned that the imminent collapse of health services in Afghanistan and the hunger situation is going to worsen if aid and money are not in the country. Comes.” A press conference on Thursday. “Afghanistan’s severe winter threatens more misery and hardships.”
The unfolding health care crisis has underscored how quickly basic services have settled as international donors struggle to deliver badly needed aid to the country under the Taliban regime.
According to the World Bank, foreign aid once accounted for about 75 percent of the country’s public expenditure, but after terrorists seized control on August 15, The US deposited more than $9 billion into US accounts of the Afghan Central Bank, and major international funders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund halted disbursements.
He fears the Taliban will re-enact the brutal repression of his earlier regime from 1996 to 2001. Aid groups and foreign governments have talked about finding a way to funnel money and supplies into Afghanistan without putting them in the hands of the Taliban, but until then, ordinary Afghans are paying a heavy price.
Mr Mathew said on Thursday, “There needs to be some solution to the financial flows into Afghanistan to ensure that at least wages are paid, and the purchase of essential supplies – electricity and water being two of them – can be done.”
Last week, the United States cleared the way for some aid to Afghanistan, issuing two general licenses to allow the US government and some international organizations such as the United Nations to engage with the Taliban in providing humanitarian aid.
The flow of agricultural commodities, medicines and other vital resources must be reduced while maintaining economic sanctions against the Taliban.
“The Treasury is committed to facilitating the flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan and other activities that support their basic humanitarian needs,” Andrea Gacci, director of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.
But winter is fast approaching, with humanitarian organizations making an urgent appeal to international donors.
“Over the past 20 years, Afghanistan has seen significant health gains in reducing maternal and child mortality, eliminating polio, and much more.” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said last week. “Those gains are now at serious risk.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is seeking $38 million to fund health care and other emergency services across Afghanistan. And heyOn Wednesday, the UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, appealed to donors to help them achieve their goal of $606 million to pay for humanitarian programs by the end of the year. So far, that appeal is only 22 percent funded.
Nevertheless, the international community remains deeply divided over the issue of providing aid to the Taliban-run government.
Some countries and aid organizations have demanded that the new government meet certain conditions in return for aid – such as guaranteeing women’s rights. Others have warned that conditionally risking aid plunges the country into a humanitarian disaster.
More than half a million Afghans were evicted from their homes this summer during the Taliban’s four-month military campaign, and many of them still live in makeshift camps. According to the World Food Program, drought has engulfed much of the country, causing severe food shortages. And the country is facing a major economic crisis as the Taliban break away from both the international banking system and the foreign aid that supported the previous government.
According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, about 18 million Afghans, about half the population, are now in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization warned that two-thirds of the nearly 2,300 health care facilities it supports have run out of essential medicines. Only about 400 are working now.
Those facilities, the backbone of the country’s health care system, are part of a $600 million project administered by the World Bank and funded by the US Agency for International Development, the European Union and others.
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More than 2,500 health facilities are also not functioning now, Mr Mathew said. More than 20,000 health workers are out of work, either because facilities are closed or their wages withheld.
This has sparked fears about a rise in deaths from basic medical illnesses and a crippling brain drain as doctors look for work elsewhere or leave the country.
“Our doctors have not received their salaries for three months now,” said Dr. Mohammad Farid Rasouli, who works in the anesthesia ward at Aliabad Hospital in Kabul. For now, the hospital’s medical staff are reporting to work every day, he said, but “if we don’t get our pay, it’s likely that we’ll give up on our duties.”
Afghans are feeling the pressure across the country.
Noor Muhammad, 55, said, “I have a head injury and kidney problem, but don’t have the money to go to the doctor.” “If I don’t pay, no one is going to help me.”
Originally from northern Balkh province, Mr. Muhammad has been living in the Charhi Kambar refugee camp in Kabul for 17 years. Nestled between apartment buildings and a multi-lane thoroughfare, the camp is the size of a city block—a patchwork of mud-brick houses with narrow, muddy streets and open sewers. It consists mainly of refugees from Helmand province in the south of Afghanistan.
Children ran around the dusty square from the mosque and the water pump, while one man was selling boiled corn and the other fresh bananas and pomegranates.
Muhammad Wali, 50, was one of hundreds who moved from Helmand to the refugee settlement two months ago as fighting intensified in southern Afghanistan between the Taliban and the forces of the previous government.
For weeks his hometown, the province’s capital, Lashkar Gah, was stunned by airstrikes by government forces and ongoing fighting between Taliban fighters and Afghan soldiers. Mr Wali moved north after his house was destroyed and the Taliban began instructing residents to leave the city, he said.
But he and many others in the rehabilitation camp are yet to find work, and are struggling to buy basic goods as prices rise.
“People are facing famine all over Afghanistan, especially the many refugees who are living in these camps,” he said. “People here don’t even have money to buy a roti.”
Jim Huylebrock reported from Kabul and Christina Goldbaum from Doha, Qatar.
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