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Overseas assist drops sharply as Taliban abuses jeopardise Afghanistan well being system, group says

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The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 drove hundreds of thousands into poverty and starvation after overseas assist stopped nearly in a single day.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Human Rights Watch mentioned on February 12 that Afghanistan’s public well being system has been hit onerous following a pointy discount in overseas help, coupled with severe Taliban abuses towards girls and ladies, jeopardising the fitting to healthcare of hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

In a brand new report, the New York-based watchdog mentioned this has left the “Afghan population increasingly vulnerable to severe malnutrition and illness” amongst different results of insufficient medical care.”

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 drove hundreds of thousands into poverty and starvation after overseas assist stopped nearly in a single day.

Sanctions towards the Taliban rulers, a halt on financial institution transfers and frozen billions in Afghanistan’s foreign money reserves, have reduce off entry to international establishments and the skin cash that supported the aid-dependent financial system earlier than the withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO forces.

In 2023, the World Food Programme warned that malnutrition charges in Afghanistan have been at a file excessive with half the nation affected by extreme starvation all year long. “Women and girls have been disproportionately affected by the healthcare crisis, particularly because of Taliban abuses,” mentioned the report.

The Taliban have barred girls from most areas of public life and work and stopped ladies from going to high school past the sixth grade as a part of harsh measures they imposed after taking energy.

“Taliban restrictions on women’s freedom of movement and employment have gravely limited their access to health services,” the HRW report mentioned, whereas bans on training have blocked nearly all coaching of future feminine healthcare staff within the nation.

“The loss of foreign development aid and Taliban rights violations have caused a catastrophic health crisis in Afghanistan that is disproportionately harming women and girls,” the report quoted Fereshta Abbasi, Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch, as saying.

She added that “the cost of treatment and medicine has put care out of reach for many Afghans”.

HRW remotely interviewed 46 Afghan and foreign aid officials, healthcare workers, and people seeking healthcare in 16 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces between February 2023 and January 2024. Fifteen of the interviewees, 12 women and three men, were with Afghans who had sought health care. The rights group also talked to Afghan healthcare officials, 10 women and eight men.

The Taliban government spokesmen were not immediately available to comment on the report. While Afghans living in poverty have always faced difficulties obtaining health care because of costs, a rising number now struggle to pay for food and are often unable to cover the price of medicines and transportation to reach health services.

“Since the Taliban took over, the price of my medications has nearly doubled,” a 54-year-old man residing with a kidney an infection informed HRW. “This is too much for anyone who doesn’t have a job.” The report also cited an unnamed official with the charity Mercy Corps in September as telling HRW that “the humanitarian response in Afghanistan simply cannot keep pace with the country’s worsening conditions”.

“The Taliban have also also imposed the women’s head-covering, or hijab, and strict regulations regarding the presence of a male guardian, known as mahram, further impeding women from travelling for work or receiving treatment,” the report said.

The report cited an unnamed doctor in the town of Samangan as saying they have been told by the Taliban “to not deal with any feminine affected person who shouldn’t be accompanied by a mahram or shouldn’t be in full hijab”.

“The unprecedented economic crisis in Afghanistan has meant that millions are facing life-threatening conditions,” mentioned Mr. Abbasi, the HRW researcher. “The situation demands more than humanitarian aid; it requires sustainable efforts to avert further economic decline and alleviate the immense suffering of the Afghan population.”

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