Project Showcase: Afghanistan20

EMERGENCY’s report is a monumental historical document, representing the view from Afghanistan.

The American occupation of Afghanistan claimed more lives in just three months than were killed in the twin towers on 9/11/2001. Gino Strada—a surgeon and founder of EMERGENCY, a charitable NGO that provides free medical treatment to victims of war—notes this in his introduction to Afghanistan20: a new report that documents the aftereffects of 9/11 on the Afghani people and EMERGENCY’s efforts to help.

In the same piece, Strada makes mention of the painstaking efforts of a New Hampshire researcher to collect the names, dates, and places of these deaths. Afghanistan20 endeavors to achieve something similar, in its attempt to quantify the magnitude of the conflict while empathetically portraying its impact on individuals.

Strada passed away in August. In an obituary, The New York Times reported that EMERGENCY had treated more than 11 million patients by the time of Strada’s death, and referenced its own 2012 deep–dive into its efforts. “In this war that is not exactly a war, EMERGENCY represents one of the few places that offers something like an accounting,” journalist Luke Magola wrote of the organization’s commitment to both unbiased caregiving and meticulous record–keeping.

We were honored to lend our services to Afghanistan20 as part of a nascent initiative to take on pro–bono, charitable work. The report—a print and digital experience replete with first–hand accounts, original photography, and interactive data visualizations—was a natural fit: the epitome of data humanism as we think of it.

As partners, we were glad to provide additional help when circumstances took a turn for the worse in late summer, with Strada’s death and the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops. “It was a very special year for us,” Senior Press Officer Rossella Palma acknowledges. “The Accurat Team had infinite patience and dedication.”

In Afghanistan20, we learn that 241,000 civilians have been killed since 2001, and that countless more have died as a result of hunger, disease, and poor infrastructure. We’re informed that it costs roughly one million USD per year to station a soldier in Afghanistan. Dataviz shows the impact of EMERGENCY services, and illustrates the scale of destruction. And photography and essays illustrate what it’s like to be a nurse, a child, or a journalist in the country since 2001.

EMERGENCY has operated clinics in Afghanistan for 22 years: a situation that has granted them a “rare vantage point,” as President Rossella Miccio puts it in his foreword. “We have seen the conflict develop—or rather, degenerate—with our own eyes.” In the years since 9/11, the world has slowly shifted its perspective to focus on victims of the occupation. Afghanistan20 is an invaluable resource in this regard, well–timed to offer a counter–point–of–view to programming focused on American loss.

Below, take a look at selections from the print and digital experiences. Read the full web version here.

Afghanistan20’s landing page features an interactive scroll.

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