Afghanistan

In 1988 our work started under the auspices of the Afghan Red Crescent Society. They took us to visit all the main hospitals in Kabul and also some hospitals and clinics in the provinces. The hospitals were all in a terrible state, full of serious war injuries, burns and infections that the doctors had no ability to help as they had no medicines and virtually no equipment. Patient relatives were sent out to procure any needed supplies prior to any treatment, assuming they had the money to buy them.  Our first containers were shipped from Hull to Leningrad from where they went on to the Northern border of Afghanistan. We soon sent out a truck to move them down the road, through the Salang tunnel and then on to Kabul. Soon we were sending 6 containers a year. We had much help, and both the money and supplies rolled in.

 

In 1991, political changes arrived in the form of the Mujahideen government arrived. Civil War began as different warlords fought each other for power, destroying much of Kabul in the process. There was no law and order and nothing was safe. During this time we lost the house we rented for our base.  We also lost our cars and our truck, and living in Kabul was very dangerous. The Taliban then took over in government and aggressively enforced law and order under the Islamic Sharia law. The Taliban brought much needed law and order. The bombing and shooting was stopped and it was peaceful in Kabul. We were not able to use our logistics route through Russia as the Northern entrance to the Salang tunnel was not in the control of the Taliban and we had to try new routes. Our first efforts were through Georgia, the first container made it but the second got stuck in Poti Port as the Georgian’s decided they would like it themselves.

 

We then re routed through Karachi with a disastrous first load that took almost 2 years to reach Kabul. These were difficult times for us but we did eventually sort out the port problems and we still have only this route to use. At the end of the Taliban rule the country suffered severe drought and sanctions from the west. Severe winters with many refugees in tents caused death rates to soar. The Afghan Red Crescent did what they could to help us during this time. They built a new hospital called TahyaMaskanHospital on the outskirts of Kabul, which we still help. During this time we started a mother and child clinic in Taimave, a poor area. There we saw many people with worms and skin infections. There were 80-100 children every morning to see our doctor and nurse and our medicines were needed badly.  We started to encounter security problems as too many people were coming to the clinic, so in the end we were forced to close the clinic down

 

Since the American, British coalition moved in to control the country, life has slowly become more difficult for our work. Tighter regulations and a policy of Trade instead of aid is now firmly in place, making it very difficult now to get containers of aid into the country.