Uncertainty Amid the Coronavirus Situation in Afghanistan
Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_As the third wave of the Coronavirus hits the country, the Public Health Ministry and the government leadership barely takes concrete preventive measures to thwart the outbreak of a potential humanitarian crisis with severe ramifications of its kind. Based on the Public Health Ministry’s announcement regarding the COVID-19 situation, schools and universities must remain closed for two more weeks. Meanwhile, Kabul Municipality has announced that wedding halls, swimming pools, and sports complexes are not allowed to operate for the same period. Whether people adhere to the imposed rules and preventive restrictions is yet to be seen.
This year the COVID-19 scenario is entirely different from that of last year. Firstly, there is no COVID-relief fund or substantial aid to be allocated if the situation deteriorates, and it’s unlikely to expect more donations as countries have already donated money, vaccine, and facilities. Secondly, the government is reluctant to take preventive actions and impose strict precautionary guidance to prevent the possibility of a terrible scenario like in other countries, particularly in India. The availability of facilities and doctors at the COVID-19 hospitals will not accommodate the number of patients. Therefore, the likelihood of a devastating crisis is not far from possible if things remain unchanged and people underestimate the situation.
The deteriorating security situation is another central area of concern, making the COVID-19 crisis rather complicated. Day after day, districts and cities are falling into the hands of the Taliban across the country. While the Afghan peace talks have reached the worst deadlock and fruitful resumption does not seem promising, the general public’s only hope for a potential permanent ceasefire or peace settlement is fading. On the contrary, the Taliban are using attack and run strategies to terrorize people and create further chaos. The continuation of the current situation will grow people’s disbelief in the central government, and fear of the Taliban will make them care less about the consequences of COVID-19 in the foreseeable future.
Poverty and hunger, especially during these challenging times, are significant problems many Afghans have plagued with. Worst of all, the government has no COVID-19 relief fund to help people fight the challenge. Moreover, the general public’s deteriorating security situation, Hazaras, in particular, is getting worse. They get killed in numbers against their faith system and ethnicity, and yet no security measures are taken to protect them. The chaotic situation has discouraged investors from investing and opt for the #wait-and-see_strategy. This scenario is tightly linked with the complete withdrawal of the American and NATO forces and the Taliban’s claim to regain full power in Afghanistan again.
The growing unemployment born from the #Coronovirus pandemic over the past year has adversely affected the economy with severe consequences for the lower-income families whose survival depends on their daily earnings. Thousands of people have lost their jobs and are desperately struggling for survival. Additionally, people’s hopes are gradually diminishing as no improvement is seen on any front in the country regarding security, economy, political stability, peace and reconciliation process, and most importantly the COVID-19 pandemic.
The complete withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan by September 2021 has caused massive confusion among ordinary people. Afghans have lost their dear and near ones during the past 20 years on suicide attacks, explosions, target killings, and more in the presence of the International Security Forces, who provided full support to the Afghan Security Forces on the ground and in the air. As a result, people’s tension has multi-folded and doubts the Afghan National Security Forces’ ability to safeguard people from Taliban and other terrorist groups’ targets. These critical challenges further complicate the COVID-19 pandemic situation, which might strike Afghanistan the hardest as a shortage of oxygen and supplies is already felt in public and private hospitals across the country.