With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe since December 2019, countries are facing numerous economic and health challenges in order to contain the virus from spreading and protect the citizens. As Coronavirus pandemic paralyzes world economies, it has further deepened the internal challenges that Afghanistan has been facing over decades. With rising COVID-19 positive cases in the country, the Afghan government under President Ashraf Ghani implemented nationwide lockdown advising all the residents to stay home and avoiding all non-essential gatherings and movements.
With the lockdown, international borders were also closed by the government. This witnessed a surge in the return of Afghans from bordering countries after losing their jobs or sources of income. Thousands of Afghans returned to their home country from Pakistan and Iran. While Afghanistan is not severely hit by the virus so far, this flood of Afghans from across the borders added to the fears of the administrations of the virus spread amid internal problems.
Even before the inception of Coronavirus, citizens of the country have been dealing with serious health issues, making them more vulnerable to the virus. Afghanistan ranks 130 out of 195 on the 2019 Global Health Security Index. As per the World Health Organisation, the Afghan Health Ministry fears that 25 million out of the 38 million population can get infected by the virus, owing to poor health facilities in the country.
As per the World Bank data, 39 percent of the Afghani population live under extreme poverty line with increased levels of unemployment. This is one of the major reasons for the displacement and migration of citizens to other countries for livelihood opportunities.
These key factors make Afghanistan even more dependent on developed countries for all forms of aid (financial/health). The country is highly dependent on foreign with its imports surpassing its exports. According to reports, in 2017-2018, approx 65 percent of Afghanistan’s aid budget was funded and supported by international donors, with half of the budget spent on security owing to the ongoing battle against Taliban insurgency.
As the financial and health crisis of the country deepens due to the existing factors, Coronavirus pandemic only adds to their hardships. Amid the pandemic outbreak, it is essential for the Afghan government to take necessary measures in order to come out of the crisis. The landlocked country with 38.93 million population has over 450 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 15 deaths on April 9, as per reports.
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