Viral video of dancing amputee shines spotlight on Taliban's stance on Red Cross



Ahmad Sayed Rahman, a five-year-old Afghan boy who lost his right leg when he was hit by a bullet in the crossfire of a battle, dances with his prosthetic leg at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hospital for war victims and the disabled in Kabul on May 7. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- With his hands in the air and an infectious grin spreading from ear to ear, a young Afghan boy whirls around a Kabul hospital room on his new prosthetic leg.

The boy, five-year-old Ahmad Sayed Rahman, has captured hearts in Afghanistan after a short video of him effortlessly dancing on his new limb was posted May 6 on Twitter.

"He is always dancing and showing how happy he is to have an artificial leg," the boy's mother, Rayeesa, told reporters at the Red Cross orthopaedic centre in the Afghan capital on May 7.

"I'm so happy for him that he's received this artificial leg and that now he can be independent," she added, as Ahmad danced to music blasting from a mobile phone.

Ahmad, whose leg was amputated below the knee when he was only eight months old, is a long-time patient, his physiotherapist Semeen Sarwari said.

Because he is growing fast, he has needed a new leg every year or so. This new one is his fourth.

"He's a child and wants to play; he wants to have a leg so he is adapting quickly," Sarwari said.

"He doesn't want to sit around inside."

Ahmad and his parents, who are farm workers, come from Logar Province, where fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan army is frequent.

His mother said Ahmad and his sister were caught in the crossfire of a battle, and both children were seriously wounded.

Ahmad received his first prosthetic at age one and soon learned to dance, his delight clear for all to see.

More than 500,000 viewers had watched the video clip on Twitter within a day of it being posted on May 6.

By the next day, he was showing off his skills to reporters in Kabul and was the top story on evening news programmes.

The video has attracted hundreds of admiring comments, with some commenters even offering to help.

"This is the smile of victory over all odds of life ...god bless you dude," one Twitter user wrote.

"Extremely amazed by the paradox of happiness & grief in this video!" wrote another.

Taliban's war on humanitarian agencies

Ahmad's video was shot by Mulkara Rahimi, another physiotherapist at the Red Cross centre.

In her 10 years of professional activity, she has seen many patients like him.

"Because he was so happy about the new prosthesis, I just wanted to save a record of the happiness," Rahimi said.

"That's why I posted that video," she added, noting such moments were her reward for her difficult work.

"I love my job," she said.

Such moments would not be possible if not for the international humanitarian agencies that the Taliban seeks to drive out.

The Taliban on April 11 released a statement telling the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to shut down their work in Afghanistan, without providing a specific reason.

"The war in Afghanistan has created a complex situation, and, in this challenging environment, some aid agencies are not planning their relevant activities appropriately," the statement said.

On May 8, Taliban militants stormed the Kabul compound of Counterpart International, a non-profit group, killing nine people and wounding 20 others.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying Counterpart International was targeted because it promoted the "inter-mixing" of men and women.

In 2018 alone, 3,804 civilians -- including more than 900 children -- were killed in Afghanistan, and another 7,000 more were wounded, according to the United Nations (UN). It was the deadliest year yet for civilians in Afghanistan's conflict.

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