Afghanistan has endured armed conflict to one degree or another after 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded. Overall the security situation is seen to be deteriorating in Afghanistan since the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces that began in 2011—forcing thousands, desperate to leave the war zone and a stagnant economy, to seek refuge within Afghanistan and others fleeing to neighboring countries including Europe.
Every year a UN report comes out documenting the unfortunate carnage from America’s longest and most costly war in history. Along with a price tag that estimates in the hundreds of billions, there is also a serious human toll. According to the 2015 report, the number of Afghan civilians killed and wounded surpassed 11,000 with an estimated 7,457 people wounded. Women and children were hard hit, casualties among women spiked 37 percent while deaths and injuries increased 14 percent among children. Afghanistan is also one of the most mined countries in the world. As the legacy of war continues to injure, kill and destroy, there are estimates of up to 640,000 land mines laid since 1979. The reality is that hundreds of thousands live with disabilities caused by more than three decades of conflict that has left the country littered with unexploded ordinance (UXO).
While no reliable statistics exist for people with disabilities in Afghanistan, estimates range from 6 percent up to 10 percent of the population of around 30 million. Whatever the exact figures, Afghanistan has a very high prevalence of disabled people. These people continue to undergo hefty challenges: no access to public services, negative attitudes from society, unemployment and physical accessibility are just some of the hardships. From a severity point of view, if other categories of disabilities are added, this rate increases to well over 15 percent, as indicated in the 2011 World Health Organization disability report.
It is difficult to estimate costs to the U.S. taxpayer which is in the hundreds of billions—this will only increase as thousands of U.S. troops still remain in country to train and assist the Afghan National Army.