Why Do People Care More About Dogs Stranded At Kabul Airport Than Actual Humans In Afghanistan?

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Afghanistan Service Dogs

International responses to the dire situation in Afghanistan are highlighting a concerning reality: people are becoming desensitized to violence, particularly when it comes to foreign humanitarian crises. 

In light of last week's events, pictures of the abandoned dogs at Kabul airport invoked angry reactions and calls to action.

People furiously took to social media to call for justice and rescue efforts. The situation got so heated that the Pentagon had to dispute viral claims that American service dogs were left behind. 

But a question remains: have we forgotten about the real issues at hand? What about all the human lives still at stake?

The US military didn't leave service dogs behind, but they have left Afghan people.

The Pentagon's clarification that US military dogs were not left in Kabul shouldn't put anyone at ease about the ongoing crisis.

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300,000 Afghans remain in immediate danger. Or at least, that's what refugee & resettlement experts estimate, considering U.S officials are reluctant to offer their own estimate of how many Afghans still need to be rescued. 

While 300,000 is nothing to scoff at, it becomes even more sobering when we consider the thousands of civilians who have yet to be accounted for. These are all children, women, and men who face horrors that our news coverage can't possibly begin to convey to those of us safely living miles away. 

Images of nonmilitary Kabul pets seem to have struck more of a nerve than reports of real people in need of help.

Britain has also been criticized for prioritizing the dogs over Afghan people. 

If you thought the lack of regard for Afghan lives was just an American issue, think again.

Britain's Ministry of Defence (MOD) recently confirmed that a private plane chartered to fly former-soldier-turned-animal-rescuer Paul "Pen" Farthing to Kabul and back was assisted by British troops.

Farthing lead 200 stray cats and dogs past people in the airport and onto the plane, despite the vast number of desperate Afghans anxiously awaiting rescue outside the airport.  

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The fiasco stirred much anger and frustration within military circles. British veterans are reportedly struggling to contend with the fact that the public seems to care more about animals than for the allies their troops served with. 

"We've just used a lot of troops to get in 200 dogs; meanwhile my interpreter's family is likely to be killed," fumed ex-serviceman and Tory MP, Tom Tugendhat, who's struggling to bring his former army interpreter into the UK.

"When one interpreter asked me a few days ago, 'Why is my five-year-old worth less than a dog?' I didn't have an answer." 

Afghan people need to be prioritized.

Animal rights certainly matter, and it's reassuring to see people highlighting issues pertaining to the treatment of them. But at the same time, it's gutting to see more emphasis placed on rescuing stray animals rather than vulnerable civilians who're being stripped of human rights on their own land.

Prioritizing human welfare shouldn't be a controversial take. It's not invalidating the worth of an animal's life, but rather emphasizing the fact that we have a moral obligation to take care of our kind. Losing sight of our humanity helps no one but evil. 

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Yona Dervishi is a writer who is currently working at YourTango as an editorial intern. She covers topics pertaining to self-care, radical acceptance, news, and entertainment.