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Afghanistan: ICRC activities from January to December 2008

14-01-2009 Operational Update

Afghanistan is one of the ICRC's biggest operations worldwide, with 100 delegates and 1,243 national staff based in its main delegation in Kabul and eight sub-delegations and offices elsewhere in the country.

 Humanitarian situation  

    

The security situation in Afghanistan remains fragile. Fighting between armed groups and national and international forces has intensified throughout the year. Even in provinces not affected by open combat, roadside bombs and suicide bombings are regular occurrences. Hostilities continue to claim civilian lives. Access to remote areas remains a major problem in most parts of the country.

The ICRC monitors arms carriers'compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL) – also called the'law of war'– by maintaining confidential dialogue with all belligerents and running training courses on IHL for all parties to the conflict. The organization discusses allegations of abuse against civilians confidentially with the relevant parties, to prevent recurrences and minimize the effects of war on the population.

The ICRC also conducts dissemination sessions on IHL for civil society, including national and local authorities, religious and community leaders, NGOs, journalists, universities and schools.

ICRC delegates visit people detained by the Afghan authorities, the NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) and the United States-led Coalition. Restoring and maintaining contact between members of families separated by conflict remains a top priority.

The ICRC supports hospitals and physical rehabilitation centres throughout Afghanistan. Its'war wounded assistance'programme deli vers emergency supplies of medical and surgical equipment to remote areas where there are no medical facilities. ICRC engineers are renovating water and sanitation services in towns, in the countryside and in prisons. The ICRC and the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) are providing food and household supplies to families affected by conflict, drought and/or rising food prices.

The ICRC also provides technical and financial assistance to the ARCS to help it provide services to the community and implement a range of programmes.

 Facts and figures: January to December 2008  

 People deprived of their freedom  

 ICRC delegates  

  • made 391 visits to 107 prisons holding 13,533 inmates;

  • followed up on 3,525 security and conflict-related detainees;

  • helped 229 ex-detainees travel home following their release;

  • collected almost 17,000 Red Cross messages and distributed nearly 16,000, the vast majority of them being exchanged between detainees and their families;

  • facilitated 2,057 video-teleconference calls for the families of detainees in US detention in Bagram and organized 96 family visits to Bagram.

 Health care  

 The ICRC  

  • provided medical services to 50,840 in-patients and 238,589 outpatients in JPHH1 hospital (Jalalabad), Mirwais hospital (Kan dahar) and Sheberghan hospital (Jawzjan);

  • performed over 20,200 operations;

  • distributed medical supplies to a further eight hospitals countrywide, the Central Blood Bank and the Radiology Department of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH);

  • provided the MoPH with a 50-person war-wounded kit for use in emergencies;

  • provided medical supplies, financial support and supervision to ten Afghan Red Crescent clinics;

  • delivered nearly 1,100 consignments of first aid, plus basic medical supplies for treating war casualties, to isolated areas of Afghanistan where medical facilities are scarce.

 Rehabilitating disabled people  

 The ICRC  

  • registered 6,000 new patients in the ICRC's limb-fitting centres in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Faizabad, Gulbahar and Herat;

  • produced and fitted nearly 14,000 artificial limbs and orthotic devices;

  • held 168,133 physiotherapy sessions;

  • granted micro-credit loans to 502 patients to help them start their own business ventures;

  • trained 242 patients in income-generating skills;

  • assisted some 1,255 patients with spinal cord injuries, making 4,312 home visits in Kabul alone.

 Water and habitat  

 ICRC engineers and local water authorities  

  • completed urban and rural water and sanitation projects in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Bamyan, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, benefiting over 130,000 people;

  • worked on an urban project to supply water to 8,000 persons in Herat (p roject still in progress);

  • improved water supply, sanitation, living and health facilities for over 4,500 detainees in thirteen provincial prisons and 2,300 detainees in Pul-i-Charkhi Central Prison – inmates of these prisons reported better living conditions;

  • conducted a hygiene-promotion programme involving over 40,000 people in urban areas of Herat, Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar, producing significant improvements in hygiene behaviour;

  • built 400 latrines, bringing improved sanitation to 4,000 people in Kandahar;

  • made emergency water deliveries to rural communities in the north of Afghanistan by truck, ensuring that 26,000 people in this drought-affected area had access to safe water;

  • continued the renovation of Mirwais hospital in Kandahar and the maintenance of the surgical wards at JPHH1 hospital in Jalalabad.

 Emergency aid  

 ICRC and ARCS assistance teams  

  • delivered over 11,400 food kits (rice, beans, ghee, salt, sugar and tea) and 9,340 non-food kits (tarpaulins, blankets, jerrycans, kitchen sets and soap) to 13,077 displaced families (91,539 individuals), mainly in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces, in southern Afghanistan;

  • provided ad-hoc assistance to refugees from Pakistan sheltering in Kunar and other parts of eastern and central Afghanistan;

  • supplied food and non-food kits to some 2,032 families (14,224 individuals) affected by heavy snow and harsh temperatures in several provinces;

  • supplied food kits to 29,565 families (206,955 individuals) affected by severe drought in the provinces of Kunduz (10,063 families), Balkh (8,882 families) Faryab (10,620 families) and Badghis (5,220 food kits for 8,724 families/61,068 individuals in the dist ricts of Moqor and Ab Kamari).

 Promoting compliance with international humanitarian law  

 The ICRC  

  • carried out 76 dissemination sessions on IHL for over 2,500 members of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police;

  • held 56 meetings with Afghan military authorities, international forces and their legal advisors;

  • conducted 181 dissemination sessions on IHL for nearly 5,000 members of provincial authorities, community elders, religious circles, journalists and university students.

 Cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent (ARCS)  

 The ICRC  

  • supported 312 training sessions for 5,661 ARCS community-based first aid (CBFA) volunteers including 1,000 team leaders;

  • issued two first aid kits to each of about 17,000 CBFA volunteers;

  • completed 325'food for work'projects that benefited 204,942 families;

  • supported 371 trainees and 181 teachers taking part in the ARCS vocational training programme;

  • held 13,687 information sessions for 136,877 people attending ARCS health clinics;

  • supported the ARCS mine-risk education programme, whose personnel held 14,521 sessions in 3,917 locations for 118,252 adults and 221,922 children.