Misery and disease conquer Afghanistan a year into Taliban rule

Misery and disease conquer Afghanistan a year into Taliban rule

The heaving wards of a ramshackle clinic in southern Afghanistan are just one sign of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis that has gripped the war-ravaged country since the Taliban returned to power a year ago.

Last month, the Musa Qala District Hospital in Helmand province was forced to shut its doors to all except those suffering from suspected cholera.

 

The infirmary was soon jammed with listless patients, intravenous drips needled into their wrists as they recuperated on rusting gurneys.

Though the clinic lacks facilities to test for cholera, about 550 patients presented themselves within days, showing symptoms of a disease caused by a lack of basic sanitation needs: clean drinking water and an adequate sewerage system.

Poverty in the country — felt most keenly in Afghanistan’s south — has been driven to desperate new levels, exacerbated by drought and inflation since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Since the Emirate (Taliban) came into power, we can’t even find cooking oil,” said one woman, perched on a hospital cot next to her malnourished six-month-old grandson in Lashkar Gah, Helmand’s provincial capital.

“Poor people are squashed under their feet,” the 35-year-old said.

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