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MEDICAL AID FOR AFGHANISTAN

Surreal Scene as Russians Re-enter Kabul To Set Up a Field Hospital: Where Is U.S. Emergency Medical Aid?

November 29, 2001

After the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 1979, many leaders of the Northern Alliance sided with the Soviet Union, and fought alongside the Soviets against the mujahideen "freedom-fighters" and the main benefactor of the freedom-fighters, the United States.  Now, of course, the Northern Alliance is our great friend. 

According to a report in The New York Times, the Northern Alliance -- without notifying the U.N. or anyone else -- recently invited the Russians into Kabul to build a field hospital, as well as to prepare a new embassy.  The Russians arrived earlier this week.

While the Northern Alliance insisted that there would be no lingering hostility towards the Russians based on the Soviet Union's brutal occupation of Afghanistan, many Afghans have expressed continuing intense hatred for the Russians, and have vowed to kill them if they can get away with it.

Inviting such a reviled force into the capital indicates that the Northern Alliance is quite tone-deaf concerning the sentiments of the vast majority of Afghans, who strongly opposed the Soviet occupation of their nation.  Time will tell if this is an isolated faux pas by the Northern Alliance, or the beginning of a consistent pattern of conduct, which would create a huge obstacle in the way of establishing a broad-based government to rule post-Taliban Afghanistan.

The presence of the Russians to set up a field hospital raises another important question: where is the United States?

Where Is U.S. Medical Aid?

As I wrote earlier, we have a moral obligation to provide medical care and other assistance to innocent bombing victims as soon as practicable.

Yet such does not seem to be happening at all. 

For example, after the liberation of Kunduz, the hospital there was essentially non-functional, able to provide no health care at all.  A report describes a 12 year-old girl dying from shrapnel wounds in her stomach:

The child rested on her back on a dirty bed, looking trance-like at the ceiling and biting a green scarf.

Her abdomen had been pierced by shrapnel in the morning when an unexploded bomb in her neighborhood suddenly detonated, and now, as evening approached, her belly was swollen from the bleeding inside. Dr. Abdulhadi Jawid pressed his finger lightly near the trickling wound, causing tears to run from the child's eyes. He pulled back his hand.

"We have no medicine for this patient, and no way to operate to take out the pieces of bomb," the doctor said.

Why hasn't the U.S. set up a field hospital in Kunduz, or at least airlifted this poor girl to a hospital ship for treatment?

I'm not talking here about caring for every sick person in the world (although there would be nothing wrong with that idea!).  I'm addressing our moral obligation to help those innocent civilians in this one country whom we have directly and severely harmed.

Given how easy it would be to accomplish that goal, our failure to do so is appalling.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

More on Civilian Casualties

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