22-year-old Sharifa is one of the thousands of Afghan mothers struggling to overcome the hurdles that are posed by a healthcare system weakened by decades of war, poor facilities, and social and cultural barriers that are difficult to break.
A peaceful country? 16 years after the international coalition’s involvement, Afghanistan is still, undeniably, a country at war.
In just the first six months of this year, 5,243 civilians were killed or injured according to UN figures. 42% of these were women and children: caught up in clashes, involved in explosive ordnance or anti-personnel mines, victims of assassinations, their only fault was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
They are the people we care for every day in our hospitals: 2,918 hospitalisations from January to June (16 per day!) and we are not counting the ‘less seriously’ wounded – those who were given first aid treatment and immediately discharged.
Even Kabul’s capital isn’t safe anymore: the largest number of victims is there and in the Helmand province respectively, due to suicide attacks and fighting on the ground.
Yet for the European Union, Afghanistan is a ‘safe country’, where it can forcibly repatriate Afghans who are rejected for asylum or who are not entitled to remain in EU countries.’
Would you live in such a ‘safe’ country?