World leaders meet in Chicago for the second day of the NATO summit to discuss the winding down of the war in Afghanistan. President Obama has said 2014 will mark the end of the war in Afghanistan.
As the U.S. military and its allies continue to work to end the combat mission in Afghanistan and turn over control for the country’s security to Afghan forces, concern turns toward stemming the humanitarian crisis in the country, as well as quelling the daily violence that continues.
A New York Times Magazine feature recently profiled a Kabul hospital run by an Italian nonprofit, which sees the effects of this daily violence in the lost limbs and shooting deaths of the country’s children.
The hospital has remained neutral in the war, agreeing to treat both Taliban and Afghan police – sometimes side by side. It provides critical and sophisticated medical services where local hospitals cannot.
A vast majority of Emergency’s patients, however, are civilians. In 2011, the war in Afghanistan killed more than 3,000 civilians, more than any year since 2001. According to the United Nations, 77 percent of these deaths were caused by insurgents, who escalated their use of improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks. At the same time, the number of civilians killed by coalition airstrikes also rose in 2011. Because of the unconventional nature of the fighting — because the violence comes from all sides, in small doses, everywhere — it can sometimes feel not quite like a war at all but more like an interminable cycle of murder. In this war that is not exactly a war, Emergency represents one of the few places that offers something like an accounting.