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Afghanistan: merciful (and timely) action

05-06-1996 News Release 96/22

Following the recent upsurge of fighting south of the capital city of Kabul, ICRC hospitals and first-aid posts had to tend to the highest number of war-wounded in a long time. By chance, the ICRC had officially opened the new surgical wing of the Mirwais hospital in Kandahar the day the fighting broke out. In the days that followed, Mirwais received close to 70 war-wounded, while over a hundred others had to be referred to the ICRC hospital across the border in Quetta (Pakistan), where extra wards were hastily set up in tents.

According to Jean-Luc Metzker, ICRC head of sub-delegation in Kandahar, " It is really thanks to the efficient teamwork between ICRC delegates and our local Afghan colleagues that the Mirwais hospital was ready to cope with such a sudden emergency.

At present, the ICRC has deployed nearly sixty expatriate staff to help the victims of the Afghan conflict, making this one of its largest operations in Asia. Although the problems that arose during the cold months - the chronic food shortages and the lack of firewood - have somewhat receded, the recent indiscriminate shelling of civilian districts in Kabul shows that the ongoing civil war in this Central Asian enclave remains as bitter and brutal as ever.