By Meriem Cherif
The past year has brought numerous hardships for the people of Afghanistan, especially in the capital city Kabul. Home to over four million people, Kabul has suffered under corrupt regimes, egregious massacres, and now, the pandemic. The troubled history of Kabul began in 1978, after a communist coup killed Prime minister Mohammed Daoud Khan; 100,000 Soviet troops occupied Afghanistan until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. The Taliban then held power until November 13, 2001, when the Northern Alliance entered Kabul and pushed them out of the city.
Since then, a different group threatens the future of Kabul: ISIL. On November 3, 2020, the terrorist organization targeted students at Kabul University, killing 35 and injuring many more—it was the second attack on an educational institution that week. Just 17 days later, 14 rockets in a truck were launched in Kabul, hitting residential areas. Rockets showered over the city, killing 8 and injuring 31 civilians. One rocket landed near the Iranian Embassy, with portions of the rocket hitting the main building; the embassy reported no casualties. With the increasing attacks made on civilians in Kabul and Afghanistan as a whole, many officials point the finger at the Taliban, who deny taking any part in the attack. As the United States withdraws its troops from the country, the Taliban and Afghan government have made peace talks in Doha, which recently reached a breakthrough after months of discussion. Afghanistan citizens hope for an eventual ceasefire, and improved negotiations by the two warring political bodies bring the possibility closer than ever.
In terms of the pandemic, Afghanistan is not faring well. According to The Lancet, health workers anticipate a second wave of Covid-19, overwhelming their already scant health facilities. Faced with inadequate PPE, Doctors and other health workers must still care for infected patients, leading to greater transmission. At the Afghan–Japan Communicable Disease Hospital turned Covid-19 clinic in Kabul, nearly 90% of staff have been infected with Covid-19—some more than once. Coupled with the approaching flu season, Afghan health workers are bracing for the worst this winter.
The numerous issues ravaging the people of Kabul and Afghanistan have garnered worldwide attention, with the United Nations and other nations voicing their support for Afghans. Hopefully, with continuing peace talks and aid from NGOs, Afghanistan can attain the stability it lost so many years ago.