Afghanistan: Civilians paying the steep price of the surge in violence and COVID-19
Afghanistan is among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian, and women and children make up nearly half of all civilian casualties. In addition to the increased violence over the past months, communities are also dealing with a deadly resurgence of COVID-19.
In the first six months of the year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped more than 49,500 war-wounded patients get further treatment and care. That is an average of 270 people every day needing treatment for what are often extremely serious and painful life-changing injuries. In Kandahar, at the ICRC-supported Mirwais Regional Hospital, 2,366 weapons wounded patients have been treated during the first half of 2021 - more than double the number of patients during the same period last year.
The ICRC's physical rehabilitation and limb-fitting services registered more than 7130 new patients in the same period, an average of 40 people every day. Of those, more than 700 were people who had had a limb amputated, or on average four people a day with such a condition.
In total, our teams in 7 physical rehabilitation centers across Afghanistan have helped almost 80,000 people since January, at a time when violence in the country is rising.
"The ICRC is appealing to all parties to the conflict to do more to protect civilians from harm. The intensification of conflict-related violence, growing insecurity, destruction of water or electricity infrastructures, lack of access, attacks on health facilities and health workers, are among the main issues affecting the lives of Afghans," said Eloi Fillion, the ICRC's head of delegation in Afghanistan.
"More than four decades of armed conflict in Afghanistan have all but decimated its health care system. With COVID-19 adding yet another deadly threat, access to health care is among the most pressing humanitarian needs everywhere in the country, regardless of the political affiliation," said Mr. Fillion.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is committed to working in Afghanistan to deliver urgently needed humanitarian aid for people affected by the armed conflict.
Picture: COVID-19 patients are connected to oxygen tanks at the Afghan-Japan Communicable Disease Hospital, Kabul, Afghanistan.
The ICRC continues to reach out to all parties to the conflict to ensure respect of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), our call focuses in particular on the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure – including medical personnel, facilities, and vehicles – in times of conflict and violence; and to support health care to address both the consequences of armed conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.
ICRC operations in Afghanistan - January to June 2021:
Improving detainee' conditions and maintaining family links
- 4,543 detainees received access to health services.
- 574 tracing requests and allegations of arrest were initiated in 2021 by families that have lost contact with their loved ones and the whereabouts of as many as 205 people were established.
Supporting health care for war-wounded patients
- More than 49,500 weapon wounded patients have received treatment and care at ICRC supported 416 health facilities across the country, including those run by Afghan Red Crescent Society.
- For weapon wounded patients to receive initial stabilization support prior to being shifted to the hospital, the ICRC trained more than 550 people through 42 First Aid sessions across the country.
Providing COVID-19 protective equipment
- 6 hospitals under Kabul Medical University received hygiene items and personal protective equipment kits.
- Complimentary assistance to support interventions from health actors in Afghanistan including the Ministry of Public Health and Afghan Red Crescent Society.
Provided limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation services
- 7,138 new patients registered, including 723 people with an amputated limb.
- 79,953 patients assisted in the seven ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation centers.
Dignified management of the dead
- Together with the Afghan Red Crescent Society, the mortal remains of 2,449 fighters and civilians were returned and transferred to their families.
- 635 body bags, 65 pairs of rubber boots, 80 disposable aprons, 2,950 surgical masks among other materials donated to forensic medicine departments and morgues of provincial and regional hospitals.
Direct assistance to communities
- More than 7,658 people in acute crisis received cash assistance to cover their essential needs.
- Improved access to water for 35,700 people living in two provinces; revamped three water towers in Lashkar Gah to provide water to 9,450 people in the city; new water network installed in Jalalabad city providing 4,500 people with direct water supply.