Photo of a physician and Sakhidad, a wounded boy being treated at the intensive care unit of the HI Kandahar Rehabilitation Centre in Afghanistan. | © HI
Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, in August 2021, the humanitarian situation has dramatically deteriorated. 24.4 million people - 55% of the population - need humanitarian assistance (compared to 21 million in 2021 and 8 million in 2020).
People with disabilities are the hardest hit by the current crisis in Afghanistan where almost 80% of the adult population lives with some form of disability.
It is vital that people access humanitarian aid and rehabilitation care to prevent or limit disability. HI is one of the few organisations to provide this type of care in Afghanistan.
Health facilities need support
Afghanistan has one of the highest levels of explosive hazard contamination in the world and children are being disproportionately impacted. Decades of war have had an impact on the incidence of disability in Afghanistan. Due to the presence of mines and explosive remnants of war, armed conflicts and limited access to health and nutrition services, etc. some 80% of adults have some form of physical, functional, sensory, or other impairment. The number of children and adults with a severe disability - 2.7% of the population in 2005 - increased dramatically to 13.9% of population in 2019.
HI teams are providing life-changing rehabilitation and psychosocial support in Kandahar in one of the only two rehabilitation centres in the south of the country.
“Since August 2021, we have seen a major increase in patient numbers at the Kandahar centre. More people have been able to access the centre since the fighting, roadblocks and strict security measures have ended. Now, we now receive more than 100 people a week. The cases are very diverse: domestic accidents (such as falling objects, maintenance work, fall down from terrace or stairs, heavy lifting, accidents in the kitchen…), traffic, accidents, disease or birth condition… We are still receiving people injured by explosive violence even if the number has decreased in one year,” says Mohammad Rasool, Humanity & inclusion’s programs coordinator in Kandahar.
Poverty and access to food
Almost 19 million people in Afghanistan – nearly half of the population – are estimated to be acutely food insecure between June and November 2022 and 1.1 million children are acutely malnourished. More and more people, particularly in urban areas, cannot buy food due to cash shortages and soaring prices, unemployment rise and unpaid salaries, which are the main driven of the current crisis. By the middle of 2022, Afghanistan could face “universal poverty,” with 90% of Afghans living below the poverty line ($1.90 a day).
“Since March, we have launched cash distributions for 1,700 of the most vulnerable families in Kunduz and Herat for 3 to 6 months. We mainly support families with a disabled or older member, as they are the most at risk of being left behind by humanitarian assistance. The money will be used by families to buy food and to access basic services, like going to the doctor. They will have the choice to address their essential needs, while the cash will also help to boost local businesses and economies. The families we targeted are already extremely poor families, often with at least one member with a disability, whom the current crisis has put in a hopeless situation”, says Julio Cesar Ortiz Arguedas, HI's director in Afghanistan.