Afghanistan has been at war since the Russians invaded in 1979. As U.S. and NATO forces continue to withdraw and despite $800 billion in funding from U.S. Congress, the Afghan government struggles to maintain control of the country. Van Lohuizen documented Medecins Sans Frontieres’ largest hospital in Helmand as the Taliban prepared to take the city. “I had to find not only the images but also the stories in a few square feet in the hospital grounds,” he says. “I was dying to explore the situation around the city but that would have been suicidal. You take a risk by walking the streets.”

 

Serving approximately one million people with 300 beds, the MSF Hospital in Helmand is the biggest hospital in southern Afghanistan and the only hospital in the province. Nearly 700 Afghan staff and 25 expats live and work in the hospital’s units, from pediatrics to intensive care, orthopedics, burns, first aid and surgery. The hospital is free, for those lucky enough to get in. “Most of the countryside is under the control of the Taliban, so many patients who come from those areas are crossing front lines to reach the hospital,” Lohuizen says. “You can only imagine how many people die or how many unborn babies don’t make it—even doctors or nurses get killed or are kidnapped. So those who make it to the hospital are the people who make it.”

Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan
Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan