24 January 2018 – Last Saturday an ambulance packed with explosives killed more than 100 and injured 235 on a crowded street in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. This comes just a week after an ISIS attack on the aid group Save Our Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad claimed 3 lives. In the same week, at least 18 civilians were killed and 22 others wounded by Taliban militants in a siege at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul.

Kabul Afghanistan rocked by ambulance bomb - January 2018
On 24 January 2018, a bomb embedded in an ambulance was detonated on a road that houses several European embassies and the office of the Afghan High Peace Council. Photo credit: Andrew Quilty

While Afghanistan has long been a nation crippled by war, evidence now points to an escalating and urgent humanitarian crisis: 80 conflict incidents were recorded each day between July and September in 2017, the highest number in six years.[1] Following a strategic review in 2017, the UN reclassified the country from “post-conflict” to “active conflict”.[2]

One knock-on effect of such attacks is widespread displacement – on average 1,500 people a day leave their homes in conflict areas in search of safer ground. Perversive displacement not only increases pressure on resources in host communities (limiting access to already-stretched healthcare and education infrastructure) but also reportedly increases the risk of child labour, early and forced marriage and gender-based violence to women and children.

In response to the rising conflict and violence in the country against vulnerable communities, HAGAR in 2008, started providing critical shelter services for women and children who are trafficked, abused and sexually exploited. Today, HAGAR runs a transitional home for displaced women and girls (Transitional Care Centre, TCC) in Kabul, the only home focusing on reintegrating survivors back into society, and the only shelter for boys in Afghanistan (Forgotten No More, FNM).

TCC‘s mission of successful reintegration of survivors is achieved through holistic, client-focussed care. Survivors reside in TCC and benefit from comprehensive rehabilitation services including trauma-informed care and counselling, psychosocial care and healthcare as well as education and life-skills training. All of these services are designed with a sole purpose of empowering them with the capacity to be reintegrated back into their communities and the larger society.

One of whom is Nadia. She says, “I thought all ways in life for me were closed, all ways were dark, and no one would support me.” [However through extensive counselling, education and training at TCC] I have the chance to be supported and to have a comfortable life, with a good future. Now literate and able to move past her traumas, she bakes and sells bread to her local community. [Read other survivor stories]

FNM similarly provides recovery services to boys 18 and under, who are victims of exploitation – sexual, labour or military. They are provided with case management, psychosocial care, health care, legal aid and education and vocational training.

The escalating conflict in Afghanistan heightens the urgency of HAGAR’s work. We remain committed to restoring broken lives in this dangerous, crisis ridden nation and ask for your prayers and financial support.

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[1] Information sources: ReliefWeb Humanitarian Response Plan 2017 and the UN 2017 Strategic Review
[2] UN 2017 Strategic Review

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