Afghanistan - what about the work of Caritas Luxembourg?
Tuesday 16 August 2022
One year ago, on 15 August 2021, the Taliban entered Kabul and took over Afghanistan. At the time, Caritas Luxembourg feared that its work of more than 20 years would be compromised. At the time of the takeover, Caritas Luxembourg and its international and local partners were running a hospital in the capital, as well as several field hospitals. In particular, Caritas Luxembourg was running an important programme to fight tuberculosis. The imperative at the time was to do everything possible to ensure that patients continued to receive treatment, otherwise they would develop resistance that would be difficult to treat later. What is the situation one year later?
Contrary to what was feared at the beginning, Caritas Luxembourg's work in Afghanistan has been able to continue. The security problems that existed before the Taliban took power have even improved. Of course, you have to respect the Taliban's rules and ask for authorisations to go to this or that part of the country or to organise this or that action, but in general, the authorities in power grant authorisations without much discussion, as long as they are for humanitarian programmes. The teams can then move around quite easily. The hospitals run by Caritas Luxembourg and its partners continue to receive patients, as in the past, including women. The patients were able to continue their treatment. The women doctors and nurses of our local partner have all been allowed to continue working in the hospitals. They continue to do so with great courage and commitment. The situation is, however, more difficult for the office employees, who are all, for the time being, forced to work from home. Finally, the project's mobile teams also continue to go from village to village to screen sick people. Caritas Luxembourg also distributes food to the most deprived. This distribution is done as in the past. Finally, aid for the victims of the recent earthquake was also delivered to the affected villages without too much difficulty.
What has become very difficult since the Taliban took power is the transfer of funds to Afghanistan due to international sanctions. The few humanitarian actors who have chosen to remain in the country are forced to use traditional and alternative money transfer systems (e.g. "hawalas") which do not offer the same degree of security as the bank transfers we are used to, in order to be able to continue to pay for medicines, pay salaries, buy food, etc. A second problem is the widespread inflation that affects the poor in particular, but also the Afghan personnel who struggle to meet their daily needs. Living conditions outside the hospital have become very difficult and some people are already thinking of selling some of their possessions. How long will these people be able to cope with this situation? It would be a great loss for our humanitarian aid programmes if these highly qualified and hard-to-replace people decided to flee the country to give their children a better life. It would be a shame, but humanly understandable.