They face serious problems of food, sanitation, shelter, protection and security within desperately overcrowded and unsanitary shelters.ITURI, Democratic Republic of the Congo, December 8, 2021 / APO Group / -
Up to 75,000 displaced people, including 35,000 children, living in a remote and inaccessible camp for displaced people on top of a hill in Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo face "hellish conditions" without food, shelter, protection , adequate security and sanitation. , UNICEF has warned.
The size of the camp, located in Rhoe, 45 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital, Bunia, and accessible only to aid agencies by helicopter, has almost quadrupled in the past two weeks. Humanitarian access by land is not possible because armed groups have denied access to humanitarian workers or shot them several times in the last month.
The huge growth of the Rhoe camp (estimated to have reached as many as 50,000 people in the last two weeks) followed several attacks by armed groups in the nearby Drodro and Tche camps, forcing thousands of already displaced people to seek refuge. there.
In recent weeks, 35 boys, including 14 girls, were reported to have been killed or injured, some of them hacked to death by men. At least 13 girls were recently raped while trying to find food in the fields adjacent to the camp.
The militants have also destroyed three hospitals and two schools in the area. It is impossible to verify exact figures on the number of violations committed against children, including abductions, due to the persistent insecurity and lack of access to the Rhoe area.
The hilltop camp is located immediately next to a MONUSCO peacekeeping base. At least 35,000 children have taken refuge there, including more than 60 who were separated from their parents.
“The displaced people fled to Rhoe in the hope of finding some kind of safety and protection,” said Ibrahim Cisse, UNICEF Bunia field director, “but in reality, they are still in danger. About 35,000 children and their families are enduring hellish conditions, effectively held hostage, unable to move, on a remote hill in a dangerous and inaccessible part of the Congo. They face serious problems of food, sanitation, shelter, protection and security within desperately overcrowded and unsanitary shelters. "
The influx of newcomers has severely stretched Rhoe's camp, situated on uneven and often sloping terrain, to the breaking point. Many of those who have arrived in the last fortnight do not have shelter or food and must sleep in the open air. Some have sought shelter overnight in the camp latrines.
The 65-year-old Betune Ngave camp resident typifies the suffering of many displaced people. She has been displaced multiple times since 2018, witnessing rapes and mass killings in the process. Her husband was beheaded three weeks ago by militants and six of their seven children were killed in another attack in 2018.
“We have fled many times,” he said, “and we have seen our houses burned and children raped. My parents, my brothers, my sisters and six of my children have been beheaded or shot. "
Ms. Ngave now lives in a cluttered, fragile shelter, about a quarter the size of a large car, that is not resistant to wind or rain.
There are an estimated 1,300 people for every toilet in the Rhoe camp, and sewage flows openly through densely inhabited areas.
Access to locally grown food in the camp is almost non-existent because the militants are likely to attack the inhabitants if they venture too far in search of food. Currently, there is great concern about the nutritional status of children and pregnant or lactating women, and UNICEF officials warn that the situation could deteriorate very quickly.
Water is also dangerously scarce, and children venture down the hill with jerry cans to collect drinking water. If that's too dangerous, the inhabitants collect water from nearby swamps or small rivers. These trips to collect food and water can put children at risk of violence and make them vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
An alarming number of people have recently died in the camps from respiratory diseases, diarrhea and malaria.
Although the Rhoe camp has a health center, there are few beds and most of the mothers with children gather on the floor. The center's overburdened staff conducts about 180 consultations a day. It is impossible for desperately ill people to be referred to hospitals and there is a lack of burial equipment for funerals.
UNICEF, through its Rapid Response Program, has the imminent intention of distributing 5,500 kits of non-food items, which include blankets, buckets, jerry cans, kitchen utensils and soap, as well as tarps and tents.
UNICEF plans to deliver individual water treatment tablets to the inhabitants of the camp and is working with its partners to provide psychosocial support to more than 500 children affected by the armed conflict in the camp. 58 children who are still separated from their families are being helped; so far, only five children have been reunited.
Measures are being taken to assess the level of malnutrition in the camp in coordination with the World Food Program and other agencies.
UNICEF is also pushing for improved sanitation in the camp, as well as working with MSF to strengthen support for health.
The planned closure of the camps in June 2022 should be an opportunity to accelerate the process of finding durable solutions for refugees.NAIROBI, Kenya, December 6, 2021 / APO Group / -
Thousands of refugees face uncertainty and insecurity due to the closure of the camps in Kenya, warns Doctors Without Borders (MSF); In a new report, MSF calls on Kenya and its international partners to ensure that Somali refugees can integrate into Kenyan society or be resettled abroad.
With the deadline to close refugee camps in Kenya in just over six months, the urgency to find sustainable solutions for refugees in Dadaab camps, who risk being deprived of what little assistance they currently receive, increases. warns Doctors Without Borders (MSF) today. .
"The planned closure of the camps in June 2022 should be an opportunity to accelerate the process of finding durable solutions for refugees," says Dana Krause, MSF's head of mission in Kenya. "Today, the majority of Somali refugees in Dadaab, many of whom have been trapped in camps for three decades, face dwindling humanitarian assistance and limited options to lead safe and dignified lives."
In a new report released today, MSF calls on Kenya and its international partners to honor the commitments made in the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees by allowing Somali refugees to either integrate into Kenyan society or be resettled abroad.
The report reveals that the number of refugees voluntarily returning from Kenya to Somalia has dropped dramatically in the past three years, from more than 7,500 in 2018 to less than 200 in 2020, according to UNHCR. This drop in returns coincides with increased violence, displacement and drought in Somalia.
Meanwhile, resettlement offers from rich countries have largely been exhausted, leaving refugees with little choice but to stay in Kenya, where they have limited rights. Currently, Dadaab refugees are prohibited from working, traveling or studying outside the camps.
The recent enactment of the Kenyan refugee law could provide the opportunity for further integration of refugees within the country, but this depends on it being implemented broadly to include all refugees, including Somalis.
“Kenya now has a simple option: let the refugees slip further into precariousness or defend their rights by offering them the opportunity to study, work and move freely,” says Krause. "Donor countries must share the responsibility by increasing development assistance to Kenya so that it can ensure that refugees have access to public services."
The plan to close the camps has already caused humanitarian assistance to plummet, and the World Food Program warned in September that it could be forced to stop distributing food rations altogether later this year if more funding doesn't come through.
“What we fear most is that closing the camps without offering solutions to the refugees could result in a humanitarian disaster,” says Jeroen Matthys, MSF project coordinator in Dagahaley, one of the three camps that make up Dadaab.
"It is vital that refugees have uninterrupted access to humanitarian assistance throughout the camp closure process and until they are certain of their future and can become self-sufficient."
"Even when rich countries have mocked refugee rights, Kenya has remained generous by hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees over the years," says Krause. "As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention this year, Kenya should seize this opportunity to change course and find durable solutions that have the interests of refugees at heart."
Since January 2021, more than 19,700 consultations have been carried out in this center, of which just over a third were for children under five years of ageGENEVA, Switzerland, November 24, 2021 / APO Group / -
On November 21, 2021, a health center supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Foube, Barsalogho department, in the North-Central region of Burkina Faso, was set on fire. A member of the MSF team was injured during an attack by unidentified gunmen, probably aimed at the Foube police post, a few hundred meters away. Our colleague, as well as other injured patients, have been quickly treated and evacuated to Ouagadougou, and are now in a stable condition.
Mamadou Diarra, head of mission for Doctors Without Borders in Burkina Faso, responds to the latest attack with the following quote:
“We are shocked by this news and alarmed by this situation in the North-Central region of Burkina Faso, as in other parts of the country. The health post is now completely destroyed and can no longer treat patients. Violence continues to increase day by day in Burkina Faso, trapping the people of Burkinabé a little more every day, which is unacceptable. "
“In a humanitarian crisis like this, medical needs are largely unmet and people are trapped in conflict. Therefore, it is imperative to protect medical care, as well as patients and medical personnel, in all circumstances ”.
In Burkina Faso, MSF works daily with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence and has been supporting the Barsalogho health district since 2019 by providing basic medical care to displaced people and host communities. The health center was built by MSF in 2019 and is now managed by the Barsalogho health authorities.
Since January 2021, more than 19,700 consultations have been carried out in this center, of which just over a third were for children under five years of age. We also support various health centers with human resources and refer the most critical cases to the most appropriate health centers.
The current outbreak is caused by meningococcus, the most common bacteria responsible for the disease, as confirmed by sample analysis.GENEVA, Switzerland, November 23, 2021 / APO Group / -
Nearly 200 people have died of meningitis since May 2021 and more than 2,000 people have contracted the disease in an epidemic in Tshopo province, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A team from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) launched a response in the Banalia health zone, 130 km north of the capital Kisangani, when the epidemic broke out in September. The epicenter of the epidemic is Panga, one of the 20 areas of the Banalia health zone, all affected by the outbreak.
"We arrived in Banalia when the epidemic was confirmed," says Dr. Jean-Pierre Badibanga, MSF's director of medical activities. "When we first arrived, health workers mainly performed lumbar punctures to relieve pain and symptoms of patients. The response was being coordinated by the health authorities at Banalia hospital. We installed a meningitis treatment center in the hospital and we focus on strengthening existing capacities ”.
Gentillesse, 21, came to Banalia hospital with a severe headache, vomiting, fever and a stiff neck, but was unaware that these symptoms could be meningitis. "At first, I was hesitant to go to the hospital and preferred to stay home," Gentillesse says. "There were rumors in our town that it was COVID." Since entering the meningitis treatment center, Gentillesse's condition has improved. "I am feeling better little by little," he says. "The nurses are taking care of me and I dare to hope that soon I will get out of bed."
Sabiti, in his fifties, spent five days in the hospital being treated for meningitis. "They have treated me and I feel better," he says. "My health has improved since the day I entered. I will share my experiences with those who have doubts about this disease."
The current outbreak is caused by meningococcus, the most common bacteria responsible for the disease, as confirmed by analyzes of samples carried out by the Pasteur Institute in Paris. MSF is working with local health organizations to raise awareness of meningitis among the Banalia communities, providing them with information about the disease and encouraging them to seek medical attention if they have symptoms.
MSF teams have been treating patients with severe meningitis, including comorbidities and anemia, in Banalia hospital since 20 September. In addition to the treatment unit, the teams have created disease control and patient flow management systems and trained local health personnel in the treatment of meningitis. “We provide staff training on the treatments to administer, the protocols to follow, and the equipment to use to provide the best possible relief to patients,” says Dr. Jean-Pierre. "We focus on the follow-up, monitoring and drug administration of patients."
To break the chain of transmission of the disease and stop its spread, the Ministry of Health has launched a vaccination campaign throughout the Banalia area, with technical and logistical support from MSF.
Conflict both contributes to high levels of malnutrition and makes it more difficult to respond to itGENEVA, Switzerland, November 19, 2021 / APO Group / -
The international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has launched a new program to treat malnourished children in Katsina State, northwestern Nigeria, as conflict and insecurity increase in the region and that access to health care remains limited. Malnutrition is rampant in northern Nigeria, with cases generally decreasing in October, although this year MSF teams continue to see alarming levels.
MSF is working with the Nigerian Ministry of Health to manage a 62-bed Inpatient Therapeutic Treatment Center (ITFC) in Katsina City, as well as five Outpatient Therapeutic Treatment Centers (ATFC): one in Katsina City and the four others in Jibia. Local government area, near the border with Niger, where many Nigerian parents seek care for their malnourished children.
Since the launch of activities in Jibia in August, MSF has admitted 4,513 malnourished children, 78 percent of whom suffered from severe acute malnutrition. Since these centers were only open two days a week due to security concerns, these numbers are surprisingly high.
In Katsina town, from the start of activities on September 20 until the last week of October, MSF staff admitted 1,784 severely malnourished children to ATFC and 324 to ITFC. MSF is still admitting patients to its ITFC in Katsina City, showing that there are still malnourished children in need of treatment in an area where care options are very limited.
“During the summer, MSF conducted a nutritional survey in Katsina which revealed alarming levels of malnutrition,” said Dr Guyguy Manangama, deputy head of the MSF emergency unit. According to this survey, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition was 26.1 percent and that of severe acute malnutrition was 7.4 percent.
"The fact that we are not yet seeing the number of admissions drop to our centers makes us both worry about the gravity of the current situation and how it will evolve if the response is not stepped up," Manangama said. .
People in the northwest of the country, including Katsina, are also currently experiencing a wave of violence, with kidnappings for ransom common and frequent clashes between various armed groups and Nigerian forces. Conflicts have also had an impact on agricultural activities as people are afraid to work in the fields, travel is more difficult and the cost of food has increased. People are also facing an economic crisis driven by several factors, including the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Conflict contributes both to high levels of malnutrition and makes it more difficult to respond to it,” said Dr Manangama. “The delivery of health care is increasingly complicated; medical personnel may be targets of kidnappings and fear attacks on medical centers. Insecurity also means that we cannot travel to all the regions where we would like to offer care. Insecurity is a real problem in the region, but international organizations must do more to help the Nigerian authorities deal with this very worrying malnutrition situation.
MSF teams in Nigeria are also carrying out nutrition activities in Zamfara State, with three ITFCs in Anka, Shinkafi and Zurmi local government areas, as well as 12 ATFCs spread across the state.
The risk of outbreaks of deadly diseases like cholera is high, with an outbreak of hepatitis E still ongoingGENEVA, Switzerland, November 18, 2021 / APO Group / -
780,000 people have been affected by some of the worst floods to hit South Sudan in decades (OCHA). Water levels in many areas are still on the rise and weather forecasts indicate more rain is to come. This is the third consecutive year of extreme flooding in South Sudan, further affecting many of the 11 million people in the country who are already in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. People's homes and livelihoods, as well as health facilities, schools and markets are overwhelmed.
People need immediate assistance, including medical care, food, clean water and non-food items like shelters, mosquito nets and cooking pots. Access, which is a year-round challenge in South Sudan, is further worsened by flooding, making it more difficult for people to access basic vital services, as well as for humanitarian actors to reach them directly. with much of the flood-affected areas inaccessible by road. Since May this year, flooding has hit 8 of the 10 states, with Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile being the hardest hit.
Bentiu - State of Unity.
In the town of Bentiu, around 25,000 newly displaced people have arrived and are currently in four makeshift camps.
Despite the construction of the UN and the strengthening of levees in the region, there is a huge risk that they will collapse, leading to an even more massive displacement. On November 6, half of the city of Rubkona was flooded after a nearby dike broke. According to initial estimates, 20,000 people were forced to move to the main Bentiu IDP camp because there was nowhere to go. The number of people in the camp is said to have dropped from 108,000 to 120,000.
Food security is a major concern in the camp. World Food Program (WFP) rations were reduced from 70% to 50% in April 2021, and these do not cover the thousands of new arrivals. Families share their rations with up to three households and our teams are already seeing rates of malnutrition well above emergency thresholds.
We are seeing an increase in water-borne and vector-borne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea, respiratory tract infections and malaria, which are already three of the leading killers in South Sudan among children under five. . Sanitation in the camp is appalling with dirty, overflowing, and dilapidated latrines. There were already very few functioning toilets in the camp (10 times below the minimum internaional standard required) and with the sewage treatment site cut off by flood water for two weeks, there are almost none. more. The sewage flows into open ditches that stagnate and are full of garbage. The risk of outbreaks of deadly diseases like cholera is high, with an outbreak of hepatitis E still ongoing.
UK Aid cuts, which saw South Sudan's funding drop by almost 50%, from £ 135,347m in 20/21 to £ 68,400m in 21/22 (source: annual accounts and FCDO Report 2020-21), have contributed to the risks people face from disease and lack of access to adequate health and water / sanitation services, even before the recent floods. The UK must ensure that it steps up and provides the necessary funding for essential health and water / sanitation as well as emergency flood response. Now is not the time for the UK to cut aid.
MSF is also calling for an immediate intensification of other NGOs, the United Nations, the Ministry of Health and the Government of South Sudan, with increased food and nutrition assistance, water and sanitation services, shelters and health services.
This is unacceptable, we condemn all forms of violence against the medical mission, our patients and our staffGENEVA, Switzerland, October 31, 2021 / APO Group / -
The international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been forced to temporarily suspend its activities in the Bambu health zone, in Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after armed men unidentified people shot an MSF vehicle for an unexplained reason.
The incident, which occurred on the afternoon of October 28 as a team of five returned from Bambu after helping isolated communities, injured two members of the team. The two injured MSF staff, one of whom was shot in the right armpit and the other in the pelvis, have since received health care and are in stable condition. The entire MSF team in Bambu was then evacuated to the town of Bunia.
"This is unacceptable, we condemn all forms of violence against the medical mission, our patients and our staff," said Frédéric Lai Manantsoa, MSF head of mission in Ituri. "We are shocked by this news and alarmed by the violence raging in Ituri province. This is the second serious incident in recent months, this time involving a vehicle clearly identified as medical and humanitarian. "
The convoy came under fire as it clearly displayed MSF's name and emblem. MSF teams work according to the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence.
Last June, MSF expressed its outrage at the destruction and looting of the general referral hospital in Boga, which was the last health facility in the district. MSF had coordinated his rehabilitation, with many years of effort that flew away in minutes.
“Violence against civilians is a constant reality in this region and insecurity is increasing, but we must always try to reach people who need medical care,” Manantsoa said.
The suspension of activities further reduces the limited health care options for the residents of Bambu. In Ituri, MSF supports three general hospitals, 12 health centers and four health posts, as well as 32 community health posts in the health centers of Drodro, Nizi and Angumu. districts. The teams provide pediatric care and mental health services, treat malnutrition and malaria, and help survivors of sexual violence.
People at high risk, including contacts of confirmed cases and first responders, will be vaccinated to contain the spread of the virusGENEVA, Switzerland, October 26, 2021 / APO Group / -
This week, Médecins Sans Frontières / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched Ebola virus disease management activities in the Beni health zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, supporting the efforts of the Ministry of Health. In the health centers of Butsili and Kanzulinzuli, MSF's response focuses on triage, detection and isolation of suspected cases. Our teams, alongside those of the Ministry of Health, carry out outpatient consultations for patients of all ages admitted to solitary confinement.
The MSF team will ensure the rehabilitation and structural improvement of the two health centers and help maintain the supply of medicines and food for patients admitted to the isolation center and their carers. In addition, we will provide technical support for the monitoring of community activities in order to locate and identify contact cases in the community, but also social monitoring of all high-risk contacts through the distribution of kits including telephones and telephone. food to make life easier for suspects. to have Ebola to self-isolate and limit viral transmission. People at high risk, including contacts of confirmed cases and first responders, will be vaccinated to contain the spread of the virus.
Between October 8, the date of detection of the first positive case, and October 20, 2021, five new cases were confirmed, including three deaths, at the Butsili health center. A previous epidemic was officially declared over on May 3, 2021, in Butsili, with an assessment of five confirmed cases including three deaths and 308 contacts followed in the area, according to data from health authorities.
The Beni health zone was one of the epicenters of the 2018-2020 Ebola virus disease outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located about 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) from the town of Butembo, the scene of an epidemic between February 7 and May 3, 2021. MSF teams have been involved in all responses, especially in the face of the serious epidemic in the North. Kivu and Ituri, which was declared completed in 2020.
The United States has taken an important and bold decision to support this groundbreaking TRIPS waiver, but is now largely absent from the global effort to make it a reality.GENEVA, Switzerland, October 13, 2021 / APO Group / -
As governments prepare to discuss the TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) this week, Médecins Sans Frontières / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) joined activists and civil society organizations to protest today outside the embassies of the United States, Belgium and the Netherlands in Tshwane, the executive capital of South Africa. Protesters are calling on these governments to break the deadlock and speed up negotiations on the TRIPS waiver - a temporary waiver on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) - to be adopted at the meeting. the next WTO ministerial conference at the end of November. This waiver would suspend patents and other intellectual property rights over urgently needed COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, tests and other medical tools during the duration of the pandemic. The groups also urged the United States, which issued a statement of support for the TRIPS waiver in early May, to play a more active role in finalizing the deal. “The United States has taken an important and bold decision to support this revolutionary exemption from TRIPS, but is now largely absent from the global effort to make it a reality,” said Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF-USA. “This is a historic opportunity and the United States must take a leadership role. While the United States now has many tools to fight COVID-19, people in many low- and middle-income countries are still suffering and dying without vaccines, tests, or treatments. We do not have time to lose. The United States must keep its promise and ensure that the TRIPS waiver is adopted. "
The historic TRIPS waiver proposal was originally presented by India and South Africa a year ago and is now officially supported by 64 sponsoring governments, with over 100 countries supporting globally. However, despite dozens of supporting government statements stressing the urgency and importance of the waiver, the proposal was effectively blocked by a small number of opposing governments, many of them in the European Union, mainly Belgium, the Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands. , and Sweden, as well as Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. “We gathered outside the Belgian and Dutch embassies to send a clear message to EU countries to stop blocking this critical waiver and multinational pharmaceutical companies no longer making a profit on lives. human rights, ”said Candice Sehoma, advocacy manager in South Africa for MSF's access campaign. . “Even though France, Greece, Italy and Spain have already spoken out in favor of the waiver, another handful of EU governments with close ties to pharmaceutical companies are choosing to push the interests of shareholders before the lives of people around the world. We call on the united EU countries to show real leadership and convince their neighbors to do what it takes for the EU as a whole to finally align and support the TRIPS waiver. The world continues to witness global inequality in access to COVID-19 medical tools with high-income countries like the United States stockpiling and accumulating treatments and vaccines instead of allowing the necessary equitable distribution to end this pandemic. The United States recently booked 1.7 million treatments for molnupiravir, a promising treatment for COVID-19, which, if approved, could be essential in reducing hospitalizations and deaths. The case of molnupiravir illustrates why the TRIPS waiver is so desperately needed; While the US government funded Emory University's development of the drug, drug companies Ridgeback and Merck obtained the licenses and rights to the drug. Instead of offering licenses broadly to all relevant manufacturers in different countries, a voluntary license signed in April 2021 only includes Indian generic manufacturers and prevents countries like Brazil from being able to produce and import API (material first) and generic versions. "We have been saying since the start of this pandemic that governments cannot rely on voluntary measures from pharmaceutical companies, and the example of molnupiravir is a good example," said Felipe Carvalho, coordinator of the MSF Access campaign in Brazil. . “We cannot be proud of a voluntary license from Merck that deliberately prevents many middle-income countries from producing and supplying this drug on their own. It is clear that unless legal tools such as the TRIPS waiver are adopted, many countries will continue to be at the mercy of the patent-holding companies who have a say in who can produce, who can buy and at what cost, while health ministries are already reeling from the rising costs of the fight against COVID-19. We say to the remaining blocking governments: The eyes of the world are really only on you now, so you should be thinking about which side of the story you want to be when the books on this pandemic are written. "
To end this pandemic for everyone, the United States must also redistribute its excess vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries through the COVAX facility and regional supply mechanisms, as well as demand that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna share COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology. and know-how so that other capable manufacturers can manufacture additional mRNA vaccines and meet global needs.
A suicide bomb attack on worshippers at a Shiite mosque in the Afghan city of Kunduz has killed at least 55 people in the bloodiest assault since US forces left the country in August.
Scores more victims from the minority community were wounded in Friday’s blast, which was claimed by the Islamic State group and appeared designed to further destabilise Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
The regional branch of the rabidly sectarian IS has repeatedly targeted Shiites in Afghanistan. It is a Sunni Islamist group like the Taliban, but the two are bitter rivals.
“It was a very terrifying incident,” said a teacher in Kunduz, who lives near the mosque.
“Many of our neighbours have been killed and wounded. A 16-year-old neighbour was killed. They couldn’t find half of his body.”
Images from the scene showed debris strewn inside the mosque, its windows blown out by the explosion. Some men were seen carrying a body draped in a bloody sheet to an ambulance.
A medical source at Kunduz Provincial Hospital said 35 dead and more than 55 wounded had been taken there, while Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said 20 dead and several dozen wounded were brought to its hospital.
Aminullah, an eyewitness whose brother was at the mosque, said: “After I heard the explosion, I called my brother but he did not pick up.”
“I walked towards the mosque and found my brother wounded and faint. We immediately took him to the MSF hospital.”
Matiullah Rohani, the Taliban government’s director of culture and information in Kunduz, confirmed it was a suicide attack, and put the death toll at 46.
– ‘Horrific attack’ -The Taliban have been seeking to consolidate power but still face attacks from the regional IS branch, called Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K).
The Taliban security chief in the northern city accused the mosque attackers of trying to foment trouble between Shiites and Sunnis.
“We assure our Shiite brothers that in the future, we will provide security for them and that such problems will not happen to them,” Mulawi Dost Muhammad said.
Residents of the city, the capital of Kunduz province, told AFP the mosque blast happened during Friday prayers, the most important of the week for Muslims.
One witness, Rahmatullah, said 300 to 400 worshippers were inside.
UN chief Antonio Guterres called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Guterres “condemns in the strongest terms today’s horrific attack”, the third against a religious institution in Afghanistan in a week, his spokesman said.
Viewed as heretics by Sunni extremists such as IS, Shiite Muslims have suffered some of Afghanistan’s most violent assaults, with rallies bombed, hospitals targeted and commuters ambushed.
Shiites make up about 20 percent of the Afghan population. Many of them are Hazara, an ethnic group that has been persecuted for decades.
In October 2017, an IS suicide attacker struck a Shiite mosque in the west of Kabul, killing 56 people and wounding 55.
And in May this year, a series of bombings outside a school in the capital killed at least 85 people, mostly young girls. More than 300 were wounded in this attack on the Hazara community.
– Struggle for legitimacy -Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told AFP the Taliban would find it difficult to consolidate power unless they tackle terrorism and the growing economic crisis.
“If the Taliban, as is likely, is unable to address these concerns, it will struggle to gain domestic legitimacy, and we could see the emergence of a new armed resistance,” he said.
The Taliban are seeking international recognition, as well as assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster and ease Afghanistan’s economic crisis.
The United States will Saturday hold its first face-to-face talks with the Taliban since the withdrawal of American troops.
The US delegation will press the Taliban in Doha to form an inclusive government with broad support, a State Department spokesperson said, stressing it did not indicate Washington recognised Taliban rule.
“We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions,” the spokesperson said.
Source Credit: TheGuardian