Taliban shut down health centres in Maidan Wardak, depriving thousands of care



In this undated photo, a doctor examines a female patient at Maidan Shahr Provincial Hospital, Maidan Wardak Province. [Swedish Committee for Afghanistan/Facebook]

KABUL -- The Taliban have shut down dozens of health facilities in Maidan Wardak Province run by a Swedish aid group in a move affecting thousands of residents, especially women and children.

The militants shuttered 42 of 77 health facilities operated by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), the aid group said in a statement on Wednesday (July 17).

"Due to this closure, an estimated number of over 5,700 patients are affected on a daily basis," it said.

'Obvious' human rights violation

Denying civilians medical treatment and health services in this way "is an obvious violation of human rights and international humanitarian law", said Sonny Mansson, SCA's country director.

"We demand the immediate reopening of all health facilities for the people, and we strongly urge all parties involved in conflict to refrain from such actions, which deliberately put civilian lives at risk," Mansson added.

Taliban record of harming health care

While the Taliban have not issued any statement, the militants previously have closed health clinics and thwarted polio vaccination campaigns in areas under their control.

In some areas, insurgents and religious leaders tell communities that vaccines are a Western conspiracy aimed at sterilising Muslim children or that such programmes are an elaborate cover for Western or Afghan government spies.

Last year, the Taliban warned the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that it would no longer protect ICRC workers.

The threat forced the ICRC to significantly scale back its Afghan operations.

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