Afghanistan : the taliban faced with the challenge of coronavirus

Afghanistan : les talibans face au défi du coronavirus

KUNDUZ | If they are first touted for their ability to combat the novel coronavirus, the taliban are struggling today to limit its spread in the territories they control in Afghanistan.

For months, Habib Rahman, 32, is said to be ” cough, fever, chest pain “. But in the province of Helmand (South), the stronghold of the insurgents, where he lives, “there is no center to treat or diagnose the patients for the coronavirus, and no effort is made to raise awareness of the disease,” says this shopkeeper.

The virus strike today, the taliban of all ranks. Several leaders of the movement have been infected, according to foreign media, which the rebels deny.

In march, they had launched a campaign to fight against the virus, intended to show that they are more capable of governing the country than the authorities. Images showing distribute masks and soap to the villagers (without the respect of safety distances) had been circulated.

On one of these photos, the taliban, wearing masks and protective suits, white were to take the temperature of people and they were talking about hygiene. Automatic weapons were visible in the vicinity.


Afghanistan officially 18 000 patients of the COVID-19, including 300 deaths, including thousands in the territories under the control of the taliban. A figure very much under-rated, only 20% of suspected cases being detected, according to the authorities, in a country where four decades of war have undermined the health infrastructure.

The disease arrived from the West, when tens of thousands of afghan migrants have returned to Iran, neighboring country among the most affected by the pandemic. The taliban then ordered hundreds of them to quarantine.

In some areas under their rule, they have allowed health officials of the government to monitor the spread of the virus, a rare example of cooperation between the two sides. But elsewhere, people complain that they have been abandoned to their fate.

In Kunduz (North), a city that they have recently tried to take, without success, the insurgents have blocked access to health care providers. “They said they would take care of the virus alone,” says dr. Sebghatullah, who is concerned about both the population ignores the hygiene measures.

Haji Qudratullah, a resident of Helmand (South), remembers to have seen of the taliban in the process of recording a promotional video in a clinic. They never came back, he notes. And regret : “I’ve never seen anyone do anything to raise awareness of (the inhabitants) to the virus here. “

The taliban say they are still voluntary in the face of the COVID-19. “The people who suffer from high fever, cough, or pain in body (…) are brought to Trinkot,” insists Hafez Mohammad, a taliban commander in the district of Dehrawood in the province of Oruzgan (South), which Trinkot is the capital.

“Against the religion “

“Our mobile teams use bikes and bring people with symptoms to the hospital “, says the spokesperson for the movement, Zabihullah Mujahid, interviewed by AFP. The insurgents have also been distributing leaflets explaining how to protect themselves from the virus, he said.

The taliban, in their quest for respectability health, however, in the face of obstacles difficult to overcome, believe several experts. Thus, “there is no ambulance or team of professional staff able to collect samples or to treat suspected cases,” says Hamid Ahmadi, a health officer of the government.

The bad memories remain of the time when they were in power between 1996 and 2001. The health facilities were poor, with little foreign support, and the nursing staff are under-paid.

In a message written on the occasion of Eid, celebrated at the end of may, the head of the taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzad, has called on the population to ask for the help of caregivers to cope with the disease.

Against the COVID-19, the people must ” seek the forgiveness of Allah and to stop violating his orders “, he started, blaming the virus on to a “transgression” of islam.

The inhabitants, themselves, continue to live in ignorance. “A lot of people complain of symptoms similar to the flu… we don’t know why,” said Haji Abdul Bari, a native of Helmand. “Nobody told us of the symptoms of the corona. We don’t know nothing about it. “

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