Afghanistan: ICRC and Afghan Red Crescent assist victims of fighting

News and Press Release
Originally published
Heavy fighting last week in the Shindand district of the province of Herat, and aerial bombardment of the area, have caused many civilian deaths and left 230 families (almost 2,000 people) in four villages homeless.

The following press release was issued by the ICRC in Kabul on 19 May 2007

''The fighting, and especially the aerial bombardment, has killed dozens of civilians and caused much damage to civilian property in the area,'' reported Olivier Anselmo, acting head of the ICRC's sub-delegation in Herat. Earlier this week a joint team from the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) and ICRC assessed the destruction. They found that 173 houses had been destroyed or were so badly damaged as to be uninhabitable.

Today, the ICRC and the ARCS jointly distributed relief items to the affected families. They were provided with food (rice, beans, ghee, salt, sugar and tea), tarpaulins, pressure cookers, blankets and jerry cans.

The ICRC's head of delegation in Kabul, Reto Stocker, expressed concern for the victims of the fighting and reiterated that all parties to the conflict were legally obliged to distinguish at all times between legitimate military objectives and the civilian population, as well as civilian objects. ''They must respect the principle of proportionality prohibiting attacks which may be expected to cause incidental loss of life or damage to civilian objects excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated," he said.

Mr Stocker added that ''in the conduct of their military operations, the parties must take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimize, the loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects."

The ICRC, in collaboration with its partners in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, has been active in support of the victims of armed conflict and internal violence in Afghanistan for 28 years. The ICRC has regularly visited persons detained as a result of the armed conflict. In 2006, together with the ARCS, it distributed food and essential household items to 5,500 families displaced or otherwise affected by the armed conflict. The organization also provided medical assistance for war-wounded people and improved water quality and sanitation in poor neighbourhoods of the larger towns.

For further information, please contact: Michael O'Brien, ICRC Kabul, tel: +93700 282 719 or +93700 276 465