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74 SAFET Y IN AFGHANISTAN •• Emergencies

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When you check into your accommodation orientate yourself with the exits, bunker and fire fighting-equipment. Don’t be afraid to move the bed away from the window either.

want, don’t argue or insult them and if possible stay in the vehicle. Using some Dari or Pashto usually works well to break the ice if there is a problem. If you are approaching a checkpoint at night make sure you dim your headlights and switch on the interior light so the security forces can see who is in the vehicle. Note also the money being palmed by officers from every other passing vehicle – the sort of corruption that dismays ordinary Afghans and helped pave the way for the Taliban in the 1990s. It is extremely important that your vehicle does not come too close to any ISAF, ANP or ANA convoys. These conveys are often the targets of suicide car bombs using the modus operandi of ramming into their vehicles and detonating themselves. Therefore, after several verbal and visual warnings they will shoot into any vehicle moving too close to them with their large mounted machine guns. Do not attempt to overtake these convoys – regardless of how slow they are moving.

EMERGENCIES

Having a plan for what you will do in the event of an emergency is critical, whether that be a vehicle accident or being in an area when the security forces are attacked by a suicide bomber. Although you can never plan for every eventuality, you need to remember a few guiding principles. If you are involved in an incident, do what you can at the scene in the immediate aftermath to save loss of life and prevent injury. After the situation has stabilised and the security forces have taken charge pull back to a safe area and call your emergency contacts. If you are not involved in the incident, do not rush to the area with your camera as a ‘war tourist’. You are exposing yourself to extreme risk, not only with nervous security force personnel potentially shooting you, but also secondary attacks from insurgents such as bombs that are detonated to inflict casualties upon the responding forces. Stay away from these areas: ISAF and the Afghan Security Forces will handle the situa-

HOW TO UNDO ALL YOUR GOOD WORK IN A NIGHT

Good reputation and behaviour are serious considerations in a ‘shame and honour’ culture like Afghanistan. It continues to be one of the most conservative Islamic countries in the world, under- pinned by an ancient tribal structure, with most of its population living in poverty. Although you will see Westernised Afghans in Kabul, they represent a tiny fraction of the population. The economic divide between expats and such Afghans and the majority of the population who live below the US$1-a-day poverty line consolidates the opinion of Afghans that expatriates earn excessively large amounts of money only to spend it on immoral pursuits that serve to corrupt their nation. Since the fall of the Taliban, Kabul has been flooded with influences from the West that are abhorrent to Afghan culture such as alcohol and prostitution. No one really knows how much was here before the influx of internationals – however the perception among Afghans is that they brought it with them. Afghans are not allowed to enter the expatriate restaurants in Kabul or purchase alcohol, and internationals are openly asked by Afghans ‘Do you go there for whiskey and sex?’ Although this is clearly not the case, it serves to reinforce the negative perceptions. The Kabul scene grows by the month fuelled by well-paid contractors, diplomats and UN workers. Behaviour such as drunkenness in public, insulting Afghan guards and continued support of Chinese restaurants, most of which are fronts for brothels, make it hard to insist that Western culture is not having a negative effect on the country. Most work in Afghanistan to do good, but as one Afghan commented, ‘We know that you come a long way from your family and put yourself in danger to help us but why do you have to insult our culture while you are doing it?’

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SAFET Y IN AFGHANISTAN •• Emergencies 75

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tion. The same applies if there is shooting, rocketing or armed clashes, which are more common at night; stay inside your accommodation and away from the windows. If you are working for an organisation, this is where you will have to comply with the security procedures – for example moving to the bunker. As outlined earlier, independent travellers do not have such support.

Medical Emergencies

The health services in Afghanistan are continually improving with the assistance of organisations such as the ICRC and Emergency. However as an independent traveller or worker, your aim should be to get stabilised and evacuated as soon as possible, whether to home, Islamabad, Delhi or Dubai, should something happen to you. Cleanliness, lack of medical supplies, intermittent power, out-of-date medication, over-prescribing and medicating for additional profit and the questionable credentials of some medical staff are all reasons why immediate evacuation is your best option. Those Afghans who can afford it also seek treatment in neighbouring countries. For more information see p221 . Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123
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