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Update No. 98/08 on ICRC activities in Afghanistan

12-06-1998 Operational Update No 98/08

 Global view of mass destruction  

Thanks to a concerted effort by the main humanitarian players in the quake-hit region of northern Afghanistan, the destruction brought about by recent tremors has been assessed and urgent medical needs addressed. Aerial and on-the-spot evaluations have been conducted in some 100 villages, the majority of which have been substantially or completely destroyed. More than 60 of them are classified as category A (80-100% destroyed) or B (50-80% destroyed). The remainder are classified as either C (10-50% destroyed) or D (less than 10% destroyed).

 Emergency medical operation completed  

Whenever a Red Cross/Red Crescent team visits a village to assess the material and medical needs of the local population, staff evacuate the most serious medical cases and treat countless more injured on the spot. In all, the ICRC has carried out 100 medical evacuations and has treated more than 1,500 wounded patients on the spot. As most villages have now been evaluated, the Red Cross/Red Crescent's emergency medical operation has been completed. The ICRC's surgical team, which was based in Faizabad, has recently left the area. However, the ICRC continues to distribute medical supplies and food for patients in the region's clinics and referral hospitals.

 Relief assistance: main thrust of present action  

Three ICRC-chartered helicopters are used to fly in food and non-food items, such as soap, blankets, je rrycans, tools, plastic sheeting and tarpaulins, to the quake survivors to provide temporary shelter and tide them over until the next harvest, due in less than two months. A convoy from Dushanbe arrived in Rostaq on 10 June with soap, plastic sheeting, tents and 6,000 blankets. Onward distributions to outlying villages were made by donkey.

As aftershocks have rocked the region within the last day or so, significant numbers of civilians are reportedly heading towards Rostaq in the hope of finding safer ground and humanitarian support. More than 300 displaced have arrived in the town and are currently accommodated in public buildings. Humanitarian agencies will do their utmost to encourage these people to return to their villages.

 Logistics  

The ICRC is currently chartering three helicopters for its assessments and relief operation. Negotiations are underway to obtain four additional helicopters. Two ICRC planes and aircraft available locally are used to transport supplies provided by the various humanitarian agencies active in the region. A fuel supply system has been successfully set up from Dushanbe to Faizabad and a team of experienced flight/traffic controllers has joined the ICRC's flight coordinator in Faizabad to organize air traffic. The ICRC in Dushanbe is responsible for coordinating and managing the air logistics for all air traffic between Dushanbe and Afghanistan.

The ICRC has prepared six helipads at Faizabad airport and has set up two warehouses.

 Personnel  

The Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement currently has ARCS staff and volunteers working in the region, together with 13 ICRC delegates and four Federation delegates. An emergency committee coordinates the medical and relief activities with other huma nitarian organizations in Islamabad and the ICRC sub-delegation in Peshawar and its delegation in Dushanbe, provide invaluable logistical support. The Federation has a delegate in Islamabad and coordinates the Federation's assistance to the operation from its Kabul delegation, under the overall responsibility of the ICRC. Federation delegations in New Delhi, Islamabad and Dushanbe are providing further assistance. Eight additional ICRC staff will be sent within the coming days.