Photo: ICRC Afghanistan

Economic sanctions have deepened dire situation in Afghanistan, says ICRC

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said that more than half of the population of Afghanistan is in need of humanitarian assistance, with economic sanctions deepening an already dire situation.

In a half-year report released on Thursday, the ICRC said that it will continue to provide a lifeline for millions of people in Afghanistan.

The ICRC said that during the first six months of 2023, it has provided primary healthcare to 581,548 patients, mostly women and children, at 47 health facilities of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) that are supported by the ICRC.

The ICRC has also supported 33 hospitals with a capacity of up to 7,057 beds by paying the salaries of 10,900 health workers and covering other running costs.

In addition, the organization has provided physical rehabilitation services to 102,226 patients at seven of its centers across the country.

Earlier, the ICRC announced that it would end funding for 25 hospitals in Afghanistan by the end of August due to a lack of funding.

The organization’s spokesperson, Diogo Alcantara, told Reuters on August 17 that the organization does not have the mandate or the resources to maintain a fully functioning public healthcare sector in the longer term.

Healthcare in Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse following the Taliban takeover in August 2021. The country is facing an economic crisis, natural disasters, and a lack of international aid, which has been further exacerbated by the Taliban’s restrictions on women and girls.

Humanitarian organizations estimate that $2.26 billion is needed until December 2023 to provide essential multi-sectoral assistance to 20 million people in Afghanistan.