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Activities in Afghanistan: January to March 2013

18-04-2013 Facts and Figures

The volatile security situation continued to impede access by ICRC staff to people in need during the first three months of the year. With the winter lull coming to an end, and spring fighting picking up, we urgently need better access to people if we are to bring much-needed health care, food, water and sanitation to displaced persons, hospitals, detainees and many others.

Visiting detainees and restoring contact between family members

The ICRC visits detainees in different countries around the world to monitor the conditions in which they are held and the treatment they receive. In Afghanistan, ICRC delegates regularly visit prisons run by the Afghan authorities, by nations contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and by US forces. The ICRC also helps family members separated by conflict to stay in touch with one another, and endeavours to trace missing persons.

During the first quarter of 2013, ICRC staff:

  • carried out 56 visits in 47 places of detention around the country;
  • monitored 1,100 detainees individually and visited 260 of them for the first time;
  • paid the transport costs for eight ex-detainees to return to their home villages;
  • collected over 8,200 Red Cross messages and distributed nearly 7,700, mostly between detainees and their families, with the help of the Afghan Red Crescent Society;
  • enabled families of people held in the Detention Facility in Parwan and in the Afghan National Detention Facility in Parwan to make more than 1,400 video telephone calls to their detained relatives;
  • facilitated 1,228 family visits by providing transportation that enabled the families of detainees held in the Parwan facilities to visit their loved ones in person.

Providing health care

Supporting health facilities is a major part of the ICRC's work in Afghanistan. The ICRC provides medicines and medical support to Sheberghan Hospital in the north and Mirwais Regional Hospital in the south, both of which are run by the Ministry of Public Health. In addition, it provides 44 Afghan Red Crescent clinics with technical and financial support, medicines and medical supplies. The ICRC also provides first-aid supplies in front-line areas, and conducts first-aid training for combatants and civilians to enable them to treat the wounded.

From January to March 2013, Mirwais and Sheberghan Hospitals admitted 7,785 inpatients and held 41,790 outpatient consultations between them. A total of 2,240 surgical operations were performed in Mirwais Hospital alone.

In addition, during the same period, the ICRC:

  • delivered medical supplies to the front lines to treat people injured in the fighting;
  • provided first-aid training for almost 800 fighters, personnel of the national security forces, the local police and the Ministry of Public Health, and taxi drivers who take the wounded to hospital;
  • made monthly deliveries of drugs and other items to three ICRC-run local health posts in the south and east.

Providing limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation services

The ICRC runs seven prosthetic/orthotic centres around Afghanistan which provide rehabilitation services for amputees and other people with disabilities. The centres support the social reintegration of disabled people by providing them with vocational training, micro-credit loans and home education for children. There is also a home-care service offering medical, economic and social support to paraplegics.

From January to March 2013, the seven ICRC centres:

  • registered nearly 2,160 new patients, including 291 amputees;
  • assisted 22,220 patients;
  • fitted almost 3,980 prostheses and orthotic devices;
  • held more than 59,200 physiotherapy sessions;
  • granted micro-credit loans to some 175 patients to help them start small business ventures;
  • provided vocational training for 135 patients, 41 of whom completed their training during this period;
  • conducted 1,956 home-care visits to treat patients with spinal cord injuries.

Distributing food and other aid

With the support of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, the ICRC distributes food and other items to people suffering the effects of conflict or natural disaster. The ICRC also organizes food-for-work projects in different provinces to enable breadwinners to support their families, and runs training programmes for livestock owners to provide them with basic veterinary skills.

During the first quarter of 2013, the ICRC and the Afghan Red Crescent:

  • created employment for almost 1,870 participants in a cash-for-work project in the north of the country;
  • distributed one-month food rations and household items to more than 755 families displaced by conflict or natural disaster;
  • distributed nearly 7,400 two-year-old saplings, almost 100 shovels and 95 pruning scissors to over 200 people in northern and central areas;
  • granted micro-credit loans to nearly 170 families to help them boost their agriculture production in different locations.

Improving water and sanitation services

The ICRC works closely with local water boards to help bring clean water to rural and urban communities by drilling wells, installing pipelines and training communities in hand-pump maintenance. The ICRC also helps prison authorities improve standards of hygiene and sanitation in places of detention.

Between January and March 2013, the ICRC:

  • installed pipelines and drilled wells as part of an effort to bring clean water to over 62,000 people in urban areas of Paktiya, Uruzgan, Faryab, and Kunduz provinces;
  • installed hand pumps and trained people to maintain them, and upgraded spring catchments in its efforts to bring clean water to almost 107,000 people in rural areas of Parwan, Kapisa, Khost, Uruzgan, Herat, Badghis, Farah, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Helmand, Kunduz, Faryad and Balkh provinces;
  • carried out hygiene-promotion sessions for guards and detainees in detention places in Herat and Kandahar, through which almost 2,600 people will benefit;
  • helped improve water supplies and sanitary conditions for 5,000 detainees in six provincial prisons;
  • continued renovation work at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar.

Promoting compliance with international humanitarian law

Reminding warring parties of their obligation to protect civilians is a fundamental part of the ICRC's efforts to promote compliance with international humanitarian law worldwide. The ICRC also spreads knowledge of international humanitarian law among civil-society groups, government bodies and academics.

From January to March 2013, the ICRC:

  • gave presentations on international humanitarian law to almost 1,600 members of the national army, the national police, local police units, the National Directorate of Security and the armed opposition;
  • held briefings on the mandate and work of the ICRC for over 5,700 people, including community elders, religious scholars, members of provincial councils, political authorities, NGOs and beneficiaries of ICRC assistance programmes;
  • held a train-the-trainer course for nearly 115 national army officers who are instructors in international humanitarian law;
  • held three-day sessions on international humanitarian law for almost 345 members of the national army, the national and local police, and the National Directorate of Security.

Working in partnership with the Afghan Red Crescent Society

The ICRC provides the Afghan Red Crescent Society with technical and financial assistance to help it deliver services to the community and to implement a range of humanitarian programmes.

Between January and March 2013:

  • the ICRC and Afghan Red Crescent renewed their partnership framework agreement for 2013 and 2014, which is based on a commitment to joint delivery of humanitarian assistance;
  • the Afghan Red Crescent recruited almost 1,000 new volunteers in Khost and Paktiya provinces.

Afghanistan remains the ICRC's biggest operation in terms of committed resources. The organization has more than 1,650 national staff and 135 expatriates based in its main delegation in Kabul and in five sub-delegations and 11 offices countrywide. In addition, it operates seven prosthetic/orthotic centres.