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Conflict in Afghanistan

With US and NATO forces withdrawing from the country, Afghan forces and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan—also known as the Taliban—have been fighting for territory in clashes have claimed thousands of lives while crippling public infrastructure. 
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan took control of the country in August 2021. 
Our staff continue to treat patients in Afghanistan as they are able, adapting to the fragile situation and performing lifesaving surgery on victims of the violence. But this emergency is changing rapidly, and the security of our patients and staff is our top concern. 

Donate to support our crisis response work

As an independent, impartial medical humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières can respond rapidly to emergency situations and deliver urgent medical treatment to people in need – no matter who they are. By making a donation, you can help ensure that we can be there to provide medical assistance during times of crisis in places like Afghanistan.


Crisis in Afghanistan

MedicalConflict and war
Conflict between the Afghan forces and the Taliban has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions. Many are unable to safely seek healthcare due to ongoing violence and fear of reprisals. 


Refugees and displaced persons
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes by the conflict, with an estimated five million people internally displaced and in need of assistance. 

The current situation

In August, the Taliban took control of the capital and last remaining stronghold in the country, Kabul. US and NATO forces, including Australian troops, have withdrawn from the area. With the end of the fighting, many people are seeking healthcare for wounds or ongoing conditions, and some of those previously displaced are moving back to their provinces. The political landscape remains uncertain.  

A UN report published in July stated that the number of civilian casualties during May and June was the highest on record for the May-June period since documentation began. Those who are injured—in addition to those who have ongoing health concerns—were often forced to wait until fighting eased before seeking healthcare, resulting in influxes of patients in severe condition presenting at MSF facilities.

Decades of conflict and chronic instability has also resulted in more than five million people in Afghanistan internally displaced, with poor infrastructure and a damaged economy forcing many to rely on humanitarian aid. 




A medic in MSF's Kunduz Emergency Trauma Unit examines the x-ray of a patient who has suffered a complicated fracture due to a bomb blast.

How MSF is responding

MSF has been working in Afghanistan since 1980, providing emergency surgical care, responding to conflict and natural disasters, and treating people cut off from healthcare. We focus on emergency, paediatric, and maternal healthcare in Afghanistan, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

In nearly all our project locations we are seeing the consequences of the conflict on the Afghan population: people have been killed and injured in the crossfire or by explosions, have found it difficult to reach medial facilities, or have been forced from their homes in the thousands.

Now that fighting has ceased, people are able to move easily and seek healthcare that they had been delaying due to fear and violence. As a result we’ve seen an increase in patient numbers in our projects, with health structures across the country under great pressure with staff and equipment shortages.

As a precaution we have reduced the number of international staff in the coordination team in Kabul. Project teams remain unchanged, with our activities continuing. 


We have seen an increase in patients as other clinics in the area have suspended their activities. The third wave of COVID-19 is evidently on a downward trend with MSF screening fewer possible COVID-19 patients. We have also referred only a small number of patients to our COVID-19 treatment centre as we see fewer severe cases in need of oxygen treatment. 


We were able to continue caring for drug-resistant tuberculosis patients during the conflict by providing remote consultations and buffer stocks of medication to avoid them having to cross frontlines to access care. This care is continuing.

During the fighting we set up a temporary clinic at the Haji camp, where 5,000 people were staying, to provide medical care to those displaced. As the camp is now largely empty, we are looking at relocating the clinic to a location closer to our tuberculosis centre so that we can continue providing healthcare to children under five. 


Our maternity activities in Khost are continuing in the eight comprehensive health centres that we support. The MSF maternity hospital in Khost usually focuses on complicated or at risk pregnancies but when instability erupted, making accessing other facilities more difficult, we widened our admission criteria to ensure safe maternal and neonatal care for all. 

Despite the end of the conflict which, except for clashes in peripheral districts was resolved through negotiations in Khost province, markets, local transportation systems and many private clinics are not fully functioning. Some may be staying at home to give birth, sometimes because they were unsure if health facilities were still open. 


In Kunduz, MSF set up an emergency trauma unit in our office during fighting. We have now transferred patients to the new Kunduz Trauma Centre.

We are now mostly seeing two types of patients: people injured in road traffic accidents and people injured by the fighting who have complications. Since some patients fled and then returned to Kunduz, MSF medics are treating patients who were first treated in other hospitals which can sometimes make it more difficult to see what treatment was done before and what still needs to be done. Many people are injured in road traffic accidents and suffer head trauma injuries. We do not have the capacity to provide neurosurgery and the other facilities in the area that would normally have some neurological services are not providing that service again yet; this is a stark illustration of the gaps in healthcare that have long existed, and are as acute as ever now. 

Lashkar Gah

The situation in Lashkar Gah is now calm, and people who delayed seeking medical help whilst there was active fighting are seeking care. The emergency room has been full with many people presenting with respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems and trauma related injuries related to the fighting and also road traffic accidents.

We are seeing a large number of patients due to other facilities not being fully functional and because people can also now reach us from districts outside the city. Some days we have seen over 800 patients in our emergency room, and all 300 beds are full of inpatients. 

The situation in Afghanistan remains dynamic, and we are adapting our projects as much as possible to address the changing needs. 

We are constantly assessing the security context to try and ensure that our staff, our patients and their caretakers are safe when accessing any of our facilities. We will remain in Afghanistan providing care to our patients for as long as the situation allows us to do so. 

Can you help support our crisis response work?

As an independent, impartial medical humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières can respond rapidly to emergency situations and deliver urgent medical treatment to people in need – no matter who they are.
By making a donation, you can help ensure that we can be there to provide medical assistance during times of crisis in places like Afghanistan.