We would like to thank Kathy Kelly, Chicago based humanitarian worker and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, for joining EMERGENCY USA as a guest blog author again. She previously contributed the piece “From Chicago to Kabul.”
This is the second of a three part series (read part 1 here) in which Kelly examines NATO’s role in the Afghanistan conflict and the example set by EMERGENCY hospitals in Afghanistan. This article first appeared on the Telesur English website. By sharing her personal view of EMERGENCY’s impact in Afghanistan, Kelly joins Khaled Hosseini and many other EMERGENCY USA supporters who believe that high quality healthcare is a basic human right.
Check back on Tuesday for part 3.
I wish that NATO’s commander could have joined Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs) that same week in Afghanistan as they visited an extraordinarily sustainable project, called “EMERGENCY.” This Italy–based network of hospitals and clinics has been particularly remarkable for effectively saving and improving the lives of many Afghan people, over the past 13 years, while at the same time rejecting any form of war or use of weapons within its facilities.
At the entrance to any one of EMERGENCY’s clinics or hospitals, a sign at the door says “No Weapons Allowed.” A logo banning guns is next to the EMERGENCY logo. Although they work in one of the most intense war zones in the world, EMERGENCY staff, including security guards, reject any use of weapons inside their facilities.
Yusof Hakimi, the nurse in charge of EMERGENCY’s ICU in the Kabul hospital, assured us that the ban is strictly upheld. A child isn’t allowed to carry a plastic toy gun inside the hospital premises. No one can wear camouflage clothing. “Even the president of Afghanistan cannot carry a gun inside our hospitals!” says Luca Radaelli, the medical coordinator of EMERGENCY’s hospital in Kabul. He added that it’s not easy to maintain a facility where wars are banned. “But,” he adds, “everyone understands the purposes and respects the rules.”
They’ve learned ways of providing security without the use of weapons. One such way involves an absolute commitment to neutrality.
They never take sides in the various conflicts that plague Afghanistan.
In fact, they don’t even ask if a patient belongs to one side or another.