Helmand, the largest province in Afghanistan, has for decades been at the centre of some of the worst fighting seen anywhere in the country. Despite the seemingly endless conflict that surrounds them, Helmandis have attempted to continue living and surviving on their own land. But although so many have endured so much, the death of a loved or injury to oneself is often a signal that that no one ever wishes to receive – that it’s time to leave home.
In the second half of July, around 30,000 inhabitants of the areas surrounding Lashkar-Gah have poured into the city – the capital of Helmand province – in search of safety,
The journey isn’t easy. Those that dare must follow unfamiliar routes, crossing checkpoints and passing between the two frontlines, in constant danger of stepping on one of the hundreds of mines deployed in this region. To inch forward just a few kilometers can take hours, sometimes days.
The lucky ones amongst those to arrive have managed to find somewhere to stay, with relatives, friends, acquaintances – often just for a ‘few days’. Many others are not so fortunate and now live on the city’s streets. A ‘few days’ becomes a week, then two, three. Meanwhile, the situation in the villages from which they fled doesn’t improve but only gets worse.
Fighting has continued throughout the districts around the capital. Our Lashkar-Gah hospital admitted 180 patients in the first 12 days of August alone. We have capacity for 100. The turnover required to make room for new casualties is extremely high. EMERGENCY personnel are working night and day – they have no time to catch their breath.
Find out more about our work across Afghanistan here.