“What to say to our Afghan patients? That we feel a form of shame ”

Tribune. “Powerless, destitute …” The terms used by our interns to describe their feelings about their Afghan patients, during our last team meeting, are unusual for doctors practicing in a large Swiss hospital. They work in a rather special outpatient unit of this Geneva hospital: our patient base is made up of asylum seekers and refugees.

Yet we are used to hearing chaotic, and especially traumatic, life stories from the patients we follow. Exposed to violence, even torture in their countries of origin, they have been extorted by smugglers, mistreated by border guards during their migratory journey. The asylum procedure is long, complex and its outcome sometimes seems unfair to them. Despite this, their moral strength, their ability to recover after hardship, in a word their resilience, is impressive. We do our best to support her during our consultations.

Switzerland more generous

But, in this month of August, what to say to the Afghans? That with a rate of protection granted of 84% (State Secretariat for Migration, SEM), Switzerland is more generous towards them than the homeland of human rights, which according to the last report (2020) from the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra) grants refugee status to 64.6% of Afghan applicants.

But, whether they are refugees or benefit from subsidiary protection, our patients have relatives who remain “in the country”, in particular women, mothers and sisters since it is above all the men who undertake the perilous migratory journey. . And while my colleagues and I follow the progress of the Taliban on the maps (that of the World of August 13 speaks for itself), our patients live it almost live, on social networks.

Read the op-ed: “Yes, there is still time, let’s act, let’s not let Afghanistan down”

One of them explained to me that he heard the explosion on August 3 in Kabul, while calling his sister on WhatsApp, and believed that she was one of the victims. The father of another, the sole protector of his wife and children, was assassinated in early July by the Taliban who took the Islam town of Qala, on the Iranian border. Thus, his wife, his daughter and his son (10 and 7 years old) find themselves alone in this city, while Taliban propaganda is spreading chilling messages.

This one, which circulates on a YouTube channel, announces, according to the translation of one of our interpreters, that “Therefore, in order to eliminate the roots of ignorance and irreligion as well as the social problems of the youth of these provinces (…), the leaders of the Islamic Emirate order all the inhabitants of these provinces, in particular the lords of the tribes (…) and the mullahs of the mosques, to submit the list of young girls over 15 and widows under 45 to the Cultural Commission of the Mujahedin of the Islamic Emirate. God willing, these sisters will be married to mujahedin and will be transferred to Islamic schools with the aim of following pure Islamic courses and accepting dear Islam… ”.

You have 55.61% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.