Needs persist as situation remains dire

from International Committee of the Red Cross
Published on 24 Oct 2013 View Original

24-10-2013 Operational Update

As armed conflict in Afghanistan shows no signs of abating, the need for humanitarian assistance remains undiminished. This is an update on ICRC activities in the country from January to September.

"Fighting in densely populated areas continues to cause civilian casualties – people are killed or injured in crossfire," said Gherardo Pontrandolfi, head of the ICRC delegation in Afghanistan. "Ordinary Afghans are forced to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere. At the same time, it is becoming ever more difficult for aid organizations to reach the people who urgently need their help. This situation is untenable."

The ICRC remains committed to helping the Afghan people. Together with the Afghan Red Crescent, it is bringing much-needed assistance to conflict victims. The international community must not allow the suffering of the Afghan people to become overshadowed by other conflicts. International aid for Afghanistan should be maintained despite other political and security issues beckoning.

"My son was injured in an IED explosion and I took him for treatment to Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar. On the road, different armed and security groups stopped our taxi in several places. By the time we arrived at the hospital, the situation of my son was already very critical, and the doctors told me that they would do their best to save his life. I was hopeless, but alhamdullah (thanks to God) the operation was successful and he is alive," said Juma Khan, from the Gezab district of Uruzgan province.

"Under international humanitarian law, the wounded and the sick must have access to medical services," said Mr Pontrandolfi. "Medical workers and facilities are protected, and they must be spared so that medical attention can be provided for those who need it."

The ICRC provides two key hospitals in the north and south of the country with medical supplies and professional expertise. It also supports 44 Afghan Red Crescent Society clinics providing treatment and care for wounded and sick patients in all parts of the country.

Thousands of victims of the conflict who have had their limbs amputated and victims of accidents who have been left disabled receive physical rehabilitation services at seven ICRC-run limb-fitting centres across the country. With support from the ICRC, many patients undergo vocational training and receive small loans enabling them to rejoin their communities and earn a living.

The ICRC remains in dialogue with the parties to the conflict. It promotes awareness of and compliance with the laws of war. It also works with the parties to protect civilians. In addition, the ICRC visits people detained in connection with the conflict and endeavours to keep them in contact with their families.

In a nutshell, from January to September 2013, the ICRC:

  • visited 2,752 detainees, 1,164 of them for the first time, and helped 22 ex-detainees return home;

  • registered nearly 6,750 new patients, including 910 amputees, at the seven ICRC physical rehabilitation centres;

  • created job opportunities for more than 5,000 people participating in cash-for-work projects;

  • provided one-month food rations and household items for more than 7,500 families displaced by conflict or natural disaster;

  • briefed more than 10,000 weapon bearers, members of civil society, and people receiving aid on its mandate and work;

  • maintained its support for Mirwais and Sheberghan hospitals, which admitted 36,550 inpatients and saw over 173,000 outpatients between them. Some 10,850 operations were performed in the two hospitals.

For further information, please contact:
Robin Waudo, ICRC Kabul, tel: +93 707 740 526
Rafiullah Stanikzai, ICRC Kabul, tel: +93 700 603 325 or +93 788 308 908
Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 30 23 or +41 79 251 93 02