Humanitarian doctors say operations unaffected by events in Afghanistan

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Afghanistan, Doctors;

Doctors Without Borders says its operations across Afghanistan have not been affected by the recent developments in Kabul.

While many foreigners have fled the country, the group, known by its French initials, MSF, continues to have some international staff on the ground.

It also has more than 2,300 Afghan colleagues spread out across five Taliban-held provinces: Kandahar, Herat, Kunduz, Khost and Helmand.

Filipe Ribeiro, MSF’s country representative in Afghanistan, said the group’s female medical practitioners in these provinces have resumed work and were already veiled or in the sky-blue burkas before the Taliban takeover, in line with local norms and customs.

“We do not face any impediments with regards to female staff coming to work,” he said, referring to MSF-run projects in those provinces.

As the Taliban pushed to takeover Helmand and Kunduz, MSF staff tended to large numbers of people wounded in the fighting, he said.

Speaking from his base in Kabul, Mr Ribeiro said the capital’s streets were quiet and calm on Monday, despite scenes of chaos unfolding at the airport.

The group halted its main operation in Kabul after May 2020 following an attack on a maternity ward that was blamed on the so-called Islamic State group.

Mr Ribeiro said the focus remains on supporting Afghanistan’s welfare.

“We have to keep in mind the health system was already dysfunctional beforehand, and nowadays it’s important to keep supporting the Afghan population and to guarantee that the medical services will continue,” he said.

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