Amnesty calls for help tackling Afghanistan's Covid crisis

Amnesty urges international community to help Afghans tackle surge in Covid-19 cases
2 min read
14 June, 2021
Amnesty International has issued a statement urging the international community to support the Afghan people fight an impending wave of Covid-19 cases by providing oxygen and vaccines.
Afghanistan is struggling to cope with a surge in Covid cases [Getty]

Amnesty International has urged the international community to provide oxygen and vaccines to help the Afghan people "immediately address" a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The human rights group called on countries and organisations to support the Afghan government in a statement published Friday, as Covid-19 cases in the country surpassed 10,000 in early June according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

The statement drew attention to Afghanistan's urgent need for adequate oxygen supplies and access to Covid-19 vaccines. 

"These latest figures are of grave concern," said Zaman Sultani, South Asia Researcher at Amnesty International. "It's clear that the country has been hit by the third wave of Covid-19 and without urgent international support to contain this surge, the situation could quickly spiral out of control."

Afghanistan, which is home to 39 million people, currently has around 2,000 oxygen concentrators and 1,063 hospital beds for Covid-19 patients, according to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). 

Forty percent of the population in Afghanistan is already allocated a vaccine under schemes covered by COVAX and from international donors such as the World Bank, however, only 641,295 doses were administered as of 8 June, according to WHO. 

The country received just 968,000 vaccines from the Indian Government and the COVAX facility. This is enough to fully innoculate just 1.24 percent of the population, according to Amnesty. 

China also provided Afghanistan with 700,000 vaccines, but an exact date for when the next batch will arrive has not been confirmed. 

Kabul's Governor Mohammad Yakub Haidary said in a press conference on 6 June that "a disaster is coming".  That same day 761 new positive cases of Covid-19 were recorded in 24 hours. 

Two days later, the MoPH claimed the situation was under control "for now" but warned the situation would become very "difficult [without oxygen]". 

"I do not want to give any false hope," the MoPH told Amnesty.