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July 24, 2013

Hospital Treating Afghan War Wounded Sees Busy Days Ahead

by Sharon Behn

The conflict in Afghanistan has been intensifying, as international combat forces prepare to leave the country. Factions are fighting for influence and territory, and civilians are caught in the crossfire. An Italian non-profit hospital fights to heal the war’s victims even as international aid starts to decline.

Doctors were forced to amputate this toddler’s leg after a bullet shattered it beyond repair. 

Medical Coordinator Luca Radaelli, with the Italian non-profit Emergency hospital, said the child was one of hundreds.  He said as sides in the conflict fought for control, the number of war victims brought to the hospitals has hit a record high.

“We are expecting a constant increasing of admission in this period. We always had in the summer time an increasing compared to winter, but now we are quite worried because the situation is quite problematic. People are many, the victims are many, much more than before, and to manage a hospital with 100 beds available with this rate of admission it becomes very difficult,” said Radaelli.
 
This 97-bed Kabul surgical center is one of three hospitals and 40 first aid posts run by Emergency in Afghanistan.
 
As foreign troops prepare to leave, funding for humanitarian groups like Emergency is waning.

U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan spokeswoman Nilab Mobarez said the country is in desperate need of continued help.

“Our message to the international community is that Afghans really need the humanitarian support and support for the development, because, for the humanitarian action because Afghanistan is one of the most poor countries of the world, and even now it is one of the most poor countries of the world when we have a lot of support to Afghanistan, if it drops it will worsen the situation,” she said.
 
Amid the dust and chaos of Kabul, Emergency is an oasis of cleanliness, peace and free, high-quality health care, financed by the group’s international donors.

Surgeon Shukoor Sardar has saved hundreds of lives here.

“This hospital in my opinion is much, much, much important for these people. Because you see that at the level of this hospital but there is no other hospital in the country. I have seen many other hospitals in the country especially in Kabul, and no hospital works at this level, especially for the war victims. In my opinion it is very much important," he said.

War wounded like Malang, shot several times when attackers sprayed his car with bullets, are brought here from all over the country.

“I had a lot of bleeding, and if they had not brought me here, I don’t know what would have happened to me," said Malang.
 
Although the mission for foreign troops is winding down over the coming year, staff at this hospital are expecting many more patients.