many members of disability-rights organizations in Afghanistan are at risk.
The day the Taliban seized control of Kabul, they lobbed a grenade into A’s yard, and he promptly left home to seek refuge. A lower-limb amputee and prominent
disability-rights activist, he’s at risk due to his disability-rights organization’s association with the United States.
“We have implemented a number of US grants and therefore…they think that me and my people are on a spy mission for the Americans,” A wrote in an e-mail
As of Monday, the Taliban has shown up at A’s house three times. They also visited the office of the disability-rights organization, where they asked security
guards for A’s whereabouts. A is moving from house to house to evade capture.
At least 50 disability-rights activists like A and their families are imperiled, says Isabel Hodge, the executive director of the United States International
Council on Disabilities (USICD). In 2017, USICD and the Afghanistan embassy in Washington, D.C., held a disability-rights conference at Georgetown University;
by virtue of their association with the United States, the lives of these grantees and program partners are now in danger.
For many years, these disability-rights activists have been providing vital services to Afghans with disabilities through organizations involved with rehabilitation
services, vocational training, leadership training, and microfinancing, among other services. For example, one organization has been working to make school
bathrooms accessible to wheelchair users, with the support of the United States. Others have focused on programs as diverse as trauma care services for
land mine victims and carpet-weaving vocational training. With the fall of the Ghani-led government, the provision of these services is almost certain
to become more difficult.
According to the Asia Foundation, Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of disability per capita in the world, with nearly 80 percent of Afghan adults disabled,
mostly because of more than 40 years of war. Despite this staggering number, that disabled Afghans are largely left behind is the result of a lack of accessible
infrastructure and systemic ableism. This problem especially impacts women and girls; according to a 2020 report
by Human Rights Watch, 80 percent of Afghan girls with disabilities aren’t enrolled in school. US intervention hasn’t helped address the issues; despite
the fact that the US spent
on reconstruction efforts in Afghan cities and population centers,
that these efforts neglected the specific needs of persons with disabilities.