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Afghanistan: facts and figures, January to September 2013

25-10-2013 Facts and Figures

A round-up of activities carried out by the ICRC in Afghanistan during January to September 2013.

Visiting detainees and maintaining family contact

The ICRC visits detainees in Afghanistan and other countries around the world to monitor the conditions in which they are held and the treatment they receive. 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.

From January to September 2013, the ICRC:

  • carried out 140 visits to 78 places of detention holding 28,649 detainees;
  • individually monitored 2,752 detainees arrested in connection with the conflict or the security situation, and visited 1,164 of them for the first time;
  • paid transport costs so that 22 ex-detainees, including five foreigners going back to their home countries, could return home;
  • collected over 12,600 Red Cross messages and distributed more than 11,400, mostly between detainees and their families, with the help of the Afghan Red Crescent;
  • installed phone banks in places of detention and in ICRC sub-delegations around the country, which were used by families to make almost 4,770 telephone calls to their detained relatives;
  • provided transport and made arrangements for family members to make over 3,860 visits to relatives held in the Parwan facilities.

Providing health care

The ICRC maintained its support for the efforts of Mirwais Regional Hospital, in the southern province of Kandahar, to care for the wounded and the sick. It provided the hospital with medicines and medical supplies, and help with diagnostic and critical services such as surgery, obstetrics and paediatrics.

The equipment donated to Mirwais Hospital included autoclaves and X-ray machines. The ICRC made available its expertise and helped train local technicians in installing, putting into operation and maintaining the equipment.

The ICRC continued to provide Sheberghan Hospital, in north-western Afghanistan, with medicines, medical supplies and other items. It helped repair and maintain equipment and conducted quarterly assessments of laboratory facilities.

From January to September, Mirwais and Sheberghan hospitals admitted 36,550 inpatients and saw over 173,500 outpatients between them. Some 10,850 operations were performed in the two hospitals.

In addition, during the same period, the ICRC:

  • delivered medical supplies 60 times in emergency situations to hospitals across the country to treat people injured in the fighting;
  • provided technical and financial support and medicines to 44 Afghan Red Crescent clinics and to community-based health and first-aid volunteers who deliver health care to people in conflict-affected areas;
  • provided first-aid training for 1,636 national security forces, local police and Ministry of Public Health personnel and taxi drivers who take the wounded to hospital;
  • made monthly deliveries of medical and other supplies to a health centre in the eastern part of the country.

In August, the ICRC organized a two-week scabies campaign for approximately 3,000 detainees in Herat Prison, in the west of the country. Scabies is common in closed environments. Prison populations are particularly at risk because of overcrowding, confinement to cells with limited access to open air, and poor hygiene. The ICRC cooperated with the prison authorities, the prison health staff and the prisoners. A total of 38 prison staff participated in the campaign.

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 help disabled people regain their place in society by providing them with vocational training, micro-credit loans and home education for children. A home-care service offers medical, economic and social support to paraplegics who would have difficulty travelling to the centres.

During the first nine months of 2013, the seven ICRC centres:

  • registered more than 6,770 new patients, including 910 amputees;
  • assisted 71,134 patients;
  • fitted 12,668 prostheses and orthotic devices;
  • held more than 186,100 physiotherapy sessions;
  • granted micro-credit loans to 530 patients to help them start small business ventures;
  • provided vocational training for 157 patients;
  • conducted 5,858 home visits to treat 1,523 patients with spinal cord injuries.

Distributing food and other aid

Working in partnership with Afghan Red Crescent, the ICRC provided emergency food and other items to help people in more than 7,500 households across the country displaced by the conflict or by natural disaster meet their basic needs.

By working with communities to improve infrastructure such as irrigation channels, protection walls and water gates, the ICRC and the Afghan Red Crescent helped people to better protect and cultivate their land, which should in turn help them to increase food production and income. The food or cash earned by some 5,000 members of needy families who worked as labourers on these projects helps them meet some of their basic needs.

Over 1,200 needy households headed by women in 24 northern Afghan villages were given chicks, feed and other items and training in poultry-management practices by the ICRC to enable them to increase their food production and earn income.

In the central and southern parts of the country, the ICRC trains and equips livestock farmers to improve their animals' health. Training in animal husbandry was provided for more than 350 livestock farmers from rural communities. Each farmer also received animal feed concentrate and basic equipment. Additionally, to improve the health and productivity of livestock, the ICRC provides 74 veterinary assistants from local communities with medicines and other items needed to rid animals of worms and treat them for illness. Between January and September, more than 350,000 animals were cleared of worms.

Improving water and sanitation services

The ICRC works closely with local water boards in Afghanistan on urban and rural projects, and also promotes hygiene awareness in prisons, detention centres and youth centres.

From January to September, the ICRC:

  • started installing pipelines and drilling wells as part of an effort to bring clean water to over 9,200 people in urban areas of Paktya and Faryab provinces;
  • installed hand pumps and trained people to maintain them, as part of an effort to bring clean water to over 173,000 people in rural areas of Parwan, Bamyan, Ghazni, Khost, Nangharhar, Herat, Badghis, Farah, Kunduz and Faryab provinces;
  • started hygiene-promotion sessions and distribution of hygiene items for detainees and guards and in places of detention holding 20,600 people in all parts of the country;
  • started to improve water supplies and sanitary conditions for 12,500 detainees in three provincial prisons and in one youth centre;
  • continued renovation work at the 385-bed 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 September, the ICRC:

  • gave presentations on international humanitarian law to almost 2,500 members of the national army, the national police, local police units, the National Directorate of Security and the armed opposition;
  • held briefings on its mandate and work for over 10,200 people, including community elders, religious scholars, members of provincial councils, political authorities and NGOs, and people receiving ICRC aid;
  • held six train-the-trainer courses for 217 national army and police instructors in international humanitarian law;
  • held 180 three-day sessions on international humanitarian law for 6,824 members of the national army, the national and local police, National Directorate of Security, armed opposition and private security companies.

Working in partnership with the Afghan Red Crescent Society

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

Between January and September:

  • the ICRC and the 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 more than 1,000 new volunteers in Khost and Paktiya provinces to support its humanitarian activities.