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Afghanistan: ICRC calls on all parties to protect civilians

18-09-1996 News Release 96/37

The military developments in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan in recent days have once again taken a heavy toll among the civilian population. According to media reports, 12  civilians were killed during air raids on the provincial capital Jalalabad and about 50 were wounded, including more than a dozen children. ICRC personnel helped to evacuate the wounded to the Jalalabad Public Hospital, the main surgical facility there.

To avert further such casualties as far as possible, the ICRC in Afghanistan appeals to all warring parties to respect and protect civilians and to refrain from inflicting suffering upon the civilian population through indiscrimate attacks.

Besides the air raids of 14 and 15 September on Jalalabad, shelling of residential areas of the capital Kabul over the past year has also regularly caused a very high number of civilian casualties. On two occasions in June this year alone, a total of 84 civilians were killed and 200 more were injured.

After the latest changes of territorial control in the east of the country, the ICRC immediately approached the competent authorities on all sides and obtained the necessary assurances that it could continue its humanitarian work in the region, i.e. evacuate the wounded, provide medical aid for the surgical hospital in Jalalabad, care for and rehabilitate amputee victims of mines and unexploded munitions, protect people detained by all parties to the conflict and assist internally displaced persons.

In Kabul, the ICRC continues to provide food and other essential items to some 30,000 particularly vulnerable families whose breadwinners have been killed or disabled. To maint ain this assistance, as well as support for the surgical facilities, continuously open supply routes to the capital are vital.