Five years ago, on October 3, 2015, a trauma hospital run by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was hit by repeated United States air strikes, killing 42 people. Even as the attack continued, our colleagues fought for their lives and for the lives of their patients with extraordinary determination and courage.
We honor our colleagues who died on that day and will continue our work to ensure that hospitals are Not a Target.
Among those killed in the Kunduz attack was Zabiullah, age 29, who worked as a guard in the trauma hospital and was also a poet. He wrote:
In July 2017, MSF reopened a small medical clinic in Kunduz, our first facility there since the 2015 attack. The outpatient clinic provided consultations for people with wounds resulting from minor burns or trauma, previous surgery, or diseases such as diabetes that cause chronic skin lesions. Unfortunately, we were forced to suspend activities in the Kunduz clinic in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our patients and our staff, and we want to avoid our clinics becoming points of COVID-19 transmission.
Work on a new trauma center in Kunduz started in late 2018, after long negotiations, however this remains a very complex process. The project experienced delays in 2019 as a result of the security situation in and around the city. Earlier this year, construction was halted for several months due to challenges posed by the pandemic. Construction activities have since resumed, with increased infection prevention and control measures in place to safeguard staff and contractors working in the shadow of COVID-19.