COVID-19 and the war in Afghanistan

Machitidze G.G.


The article examines the relationship problems between the coronavirus pandemic and the large-scale armed conflict in Afghanistan. An important element of this problem is the Taliban activities in the context of the COVID-19 spread in the country. In the first part, the author focuses on the parameters of morbidity and the nature of the fight against a new infection in the country in a weak public health system. Attention is drawn to the lack of adequate testing capacity and a national death registry, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact extent of the pandemic. In the second part, the author analyzes the problem of severe socio-economic consequences associated with the pandemic for the population of Afghanistan – a sharp increase in unemployment, poverty in an environment where the economy is mainly dependent on external assistance. The socio-economic upheaval caused by the pandemic is radicalizing desperate people, especially young people, and pushing them to join the ranks of the jihadists. The third part of the article highlights the Taliban's rather flexible response to the pandemic while maintaining a clear line on confrontation with the official authorities. The author shows the change in tactics of the Taliban movement from a rejection of vaccination to interaction with non-governmental organizations to provide medical services to the population of remote regions of the country. The timely provision of medical services to the population was facilitated by the complex parallel control systems previously created by the Taliban in the controlled territories. The author concludes that by filling the humanitarian vacuum created by COVID-19 by providing health services to the population, the Taliban are committed to demonstrating to the international community that they are ready to effectively rule the state in the future after the end of hostilities.


COVID-19; armed conflict; Taliban; Afghanistan's health system; socioeconomic impact of the pandemic; vaccination.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2021.04.08

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