The Afghanistan situation: humans

(Credit: UNHCR)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Martina Trevisiol, a third-year Medical student at the University of L’Aquila (Italy). She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

2021 was another COVID-19 pandemic year and, as we all know, this brought new problems and new challenges for human rights advocates that are beyond the pandemic.

On the 15th of August 2021, as we all know, NATO troops left Afghanistan after 20 years.

Even before the Taliban entered the capital, Kabul, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was one of the worst in the world. Nearly half of the country’s 40 million people already needed humanitarian assistance. One in three Afghans faced food insecurity, and more than half of all children under age 5 were likely to face acute malnutrition.

Protection and safety risks were also reaching record highs, as 1,659 civilians were killed and more than 3,000 injured in the first half of the year.

Women and girls in Afghanistan are facing seriously high levels of gender-based violence, with 51 percent of women and girls experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Millions of Afghan people left their homes.

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12 million people are now facing food insecurity, these people are forced to sell their belongings and borrow money just to buy some food. Poverty is now spreading throughout this Nation and the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse. Millions of people in Afghanistan have lost access to basic services such as vaccinations and treatments for malnourished children and pregnant women. Nurses and doctors are not being paid.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected educational systems, leading to the near-total closures of schools, early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, universities, and colleges. In September, secondary schools reopened in Afghanistan following months of pandemic-related closures, however. Only boys were allowed to attend while girls were left behind.

Women’s rights, including the rights to education, work, and holding public office, are in danger of being rolled back. Their freedom of movement has also been curtailed.

What are the authorities doing?

Last month, the World Bank transferred $280m from a reconstruction trust fund for Afghanistan to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, and the World Food Program for their operations in the country.

The United Nations and non-governmental organizations launched joint response plans aiming to deliver vital humanitarian relief to 22 million people in Afghanistan and support 5.7 million displaced Afghans and local communities in five neighboring countries.

The humanitarian and refugee response plans combined require over US$ 5 billion in international funding in 2022.

How can we help?

Not being silent. Sharing information and making as much as possible people aware of the need of helping those children and those men and women is fundamental to start a debate and to share awareness towards this situation. 

“We must not turn a blind eye to a humanitarian crisis which will specifically affect women and girls in Afghanistan. All EU member states must work together to ensure the safe passage out of the country for anyone in danger. All further negotiations must guarantee the safety and well-being of Afghan women and girls.” – Evelyn Regner, the Chair of the European Parliament’s committee on women’s rights and gender equality.

About the author

Martina Trevisiol is a third-year Medical student at the University of L’Aquila (Italy). She’s affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) – SISM Italy. Advocating for Human and Women’s Rights since she was a little girl, she’s now facing new challenges both in medical and non-medical fields.

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