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Drones making PTSD worse in Afghanistan -­ Al Jazeera documentary‏

- 28 Juillet 2015

Civilians in Afghanistan are increasingly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the constant threat of drone attacks, according to Living Beneath The Drones, a new documentary just released on YouTube by Al Jazeera English. 

There were over 1000 drone strikes in the last five years in Afghanistan, but civilians are also suffering from the psychological effects of 36 000 armed drone flights during the same period – an average of 25 a day.

In Living Beneath The Drones, award-winning Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi visits military veterans and ordinary civilians suffering from symptoms of PTSD - survivors who can’t stop washing their hands, or stop crying, or who keep losing their temper. He hears of children who keep waking in fear at night each time a drone flies overhead.

“If there’s any country that would be, as a nation, experiencing PTSD, it would be a nation that’s been at war, for… four generations,” says Peter Singer, a US expert on robotics warfare and drones from New America Foundation. “This is a nation that, starting in 1979, has experienced utter horror for multiple decades. The horror ranged rom the Taliban murdering people in soccer stadiums, to bombing strikes from NATO that hit the wrong people, to drones today.”

While thousands of American and British troops are diagnosed with PTSD after their tours of duty, there is little understanding of PTSD in Afghanistan, let alone affordable treatment for the condition.

With many families too poor and too far from hospitals to provide proper care for their loved ones, some are taking desperate measures: Living Beneath The Drones exposes shrines where – as part of their ‘treatment’ - patients with PTSD are kept on chains like prisoners and not even allowed to wash for up to 40 days.

With drones now in use by the militaries of at least 80 countries, Living Beneath The Drones is a harrowing look at life underneath them, at the psychological cost of never being sure of which drone flying overhead will drop a bomb, or when.

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