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Kabul: Amongst the Survivors of the 30 September Attack on an Education Centre

On 30 September, a devastating explosion hit a private exam preparation training centre in the Hazara-majority Dasht-e-Barchi district of Kabul. Official reports confirmed more than 30 people were killed and over 40 injured.  

We received 22 victims at our Kabul Surgical Centre, all aged between 18 and 25. Most of them were girls who were in the classroom at the time of the explosion. “Some girls arrived with books and stationery under their arms,” says Dejan, EMERGENCY’s Field Officer in Afghanistan, “they were preparing a university entrance exam. They are a young generation of Afghans who have never seen anything but war, but have dreams for their future. Especially that of finally being able to live a normal and peaceful life”.   

Fatima and Tahira

Fatima was among the wounded people admitted to our hospital that Friday. At just 18 years of age, she had moved to the capital to attend a preparatory course for medical school.   

What happened to her has not extinguished her desire to learn: “what kind of doctor do I want to be? A surgeon,” she tells us. “To help people, poor people.” 

Next to Fatima is Tahira. She is one year older and has a very similar goal: she too wants to become a surgeon. “There continue to be many explosions and violence,” she says. We can also see it from our hospital: since the beginning of the year, we have already handled 23 mass casualties. 13 in the last two months alone.  

“Why do I want to become a surgeon? It is the way to make my contribution, to help my people”.

The psychological consequences on the survivors

“The psychological consequences on the survivors are indelible,” explains Dimitra, the hospital’s Medical Coordinator. “One morning Tahira told me: ‘I can’t sleep, I keep hearing them’, referring to the gunshots, the sound of the explosion, the screams of those running away. I explained to her that it is normal after what she has experienced, that she needs time to digest, although she will never forget.” 

Despite several operations, Tahira has started to smile again.  

“The psychological consequences of surviving events like these are very heavy, yet people manage to get back on their feet and continue living,” Dejan tells us.  

The situation in Kabul and the country 

“The situation is one of great insecurity and instability,” Dejan explains. Since August last year, there have been more than 16,000 admissions to our hospitals in Kabul, Lashkar-Gah, and Anabah. In Kabul alone, more than 90% are categorised as war victims.      

“We continue, and will continue, to provide timely, free and quality care.”