The Photographic Journal

Kabul’s Hospital for War Injuries

Essay 485 • Oct 4th 2021

Flying over Afghanistan you see rugged mountains with tips that seemingly touch the belly of the plane. It’s difficult to spot any life besides the clustered houses, everything seems intimidating and dry.

In the compound of EMERGENCY Hospital, in the Surgical Centre for War Victims, you are greeted with lush gardens and sunflowers that dot the pathways. Operating since 1999 in Kabul, the hospital has provided treatment for over 150,000 people with war-related injuries. The final withdrawal of U.S. troops was completed in August and the Taliban has risen to power in what seemed like a matter of days. Within the hospital walls, short conversations were whispered between patients and doctors of when the Taliban would reach Kabul. No one thought they would. It was amongst those whispers of the day these photographs were captured.

This hospital is where you see the cost of human life due to war. It is where you see children have a water fight with the garden hose. It is where you see women braiding each other’s hair. It is where you see resilience and the strength to return home. And it is where you see the motivation for change. If after looking through these photos you want to be part of that change, please consider donating to EMERGENCY Hospital as their services are relied on by so many.


Emma Francis is a freelance photographer based in Paris, France photographing conflict and the effects of it for the past five years. She aims for her storytelling to not only uplift marginalized voices but provide a way to make a direct difference in her subject’s lives. Her stories have taken her to Nigeria, Iraq, Kenya, and many other places across Africa and the Middle East.
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