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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Swedish Group Resumes Afghan Health Centers after Taliban Revokes Ban

KABUL – A Swedish non-profit resumed on Friday dozens of its health centers in a central Afghanistan province that were forced to shut down by Taliban militants in the restive region, the aid group said.

They had ordered the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) to close down its health facilities in Maidan Wardak province because the charity had allegedly failed to protect civilians, including its own staff, during a raid by Afghan forces on one of the clinics earlier this month.

The militant ban, which forced the closure of 42 of the 77 health facilities run by the group in Maidan Wardak, had affected thousands of people, especially women and children, seeking medical care in the region.

The ban issued on Sunday has now been revoked, according to the non-profit and the insurgent group.

Parwiz Faizi, an SCA spokesperson in Kabul confirmed, to EFE that the health centers in Maidan Wardak were reopened.

“They (the Taliban) called our office and told us that the Swedish Committee can restart and resume its health services in Maidan Wardak,” Faizi said, adding all the health centers of the NGO were now open for their patients.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that the ban was withdrawn after the Swedish Committee “promised to solve its problems and vowed to pay serious attention to the safety of its staff members and protection of its health centers.”

Mujahid said in the past several years clinics of the Swedish Committee were attacked as military targets by the United States and Afghan forces in which health providers of the NGO were killed and injured.

He said the charity had so far taken no measures to prevent its facilities and employees from such attacks.

The Taliban had forced the health facilities to shut after a raid by Afghan forces on one of the SCA clinics in Dai-Mirdad district of Maidan Wardak on July 9 in which, according to Human Rights Watch, four civilians were killed.

The Taliban ban, which now stands revoked, came months after the insurgent group in April ordered International Committee of the Red Cross and World Health Organization not to operate in the country, over “security concerns” and “suspicious activities” of their representatives. That has left thousands of Afghans without vital health services.

At least 77 aid workers have been killed, injured or abducted so far in 2019 compared with 76 in all of 2018, according to UN-Office for Coordination Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA).

 

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