Doctors, hospitals among Taliban casualties of war

Mamoon Durrani – After the Taliban closed his local health clinic, Afghan farmer Haji Fazel Ahmad was forced to rent a car to take his sick wife to the nearest hospital six hours away. To his dismay the insurgents had shut that too. Since January more than 200 medical centres have been forced to close, while 13 aid workers have been killed. adidas tubular shadow homme In recent days Taliban fighters have closed scores of medical facilities in the impoverished southern province of Uruzgan in what authorities say is an attempt to force the government to set up more clinics in areas under control of the insurgents. “We were in the clinic when a number of armed men came in and asked us to give them the keys and told us we could no longer stay there,” Ehsanullah, a doctor based on the outskirts of the provincial capital Tarinkot, said. Other facilities shuttered by the Taliban were located in Charchino district where Ahmad and his wife live. The poor farmer then had to borrow more money to rent another car to drive to Kandahar city in the neighbouring province of the same name in the hope of finding treatment for his ailing wife. The 2014 withdrawal of US-led NATO combat forces has fuelled the insurgency, driving up casualties and increasing pressure on healthcare providers. Medical facilities and workers have been targeted by all sides of the conflict, including the Taliban, IS, Afghan military and international forces, experts say. The number of closures this year has already topped last year’s count of 189, World Health Organization data shows. “Before 2015, attacks occurred in the traditional conflict areas such as Kandahar province in the south and Nangarhar in the east. In the past two years, attacks on hospitals and healthcare workers have become more common,” said David Lai, health cluster coordinator at WHO Afghanistan. Healthcare workers are also threatened, abducted and even killed. Earlier this month, a Spanish physiotherapist working for the Red Cross was shot dead by a patient at a clinic in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. That followed the killing of six Red Cross workers in the northern province of Jowzjan in February. Air Jordan 23 IS was blamed for the attack. “Every year is worse than the previous one,” said Thomas Glass, Kabul-based spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross which has dramatically scaled back its services in Afghanistan.