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Afghanistan: ICRC activities from January to July 2008

21-08-2008 Operational Update

With armed conflict spreading and the security situation worsening, from its main base in Kabul and other offices countrywide, the ICRC continues to respond to the needs of people affected by the violence and to support the work of the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

 People deprived of their freedom  

The ICRC carried out regular visits to people held by the Afghan authorities or by the international coalition forces (US and NATO), assessing their detention conditions and treatment, and monitoring whether fundamental judicial guarantees are being respected

Between January and June 2008, ICRC staff:

  • made 146 visits to 60 places of detention holding more than 11,000 people;

  • followed up the cases of almost 2,500 people arrested in connection with the armed conflict, more than 800 of whom were visited for the first time;

  • helped 137 released detainees travel home.

    

 Restoring family links  

The ICRC collected more than 10,300 Red Cross messages and distributed over 9,800 with the help of the Afghan Red Crescent Society. The vast majority of these were exchanged between detainees and their families.

In addition, the ICRC set up a video-teleconferencing programme which allowed detainees in the US detention facility in Bagram to see and speak to their families; over 1,200 video-calls were made.

 Health care  

Three hospitals (in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Jawzjan) all benefited from ICRC support and training, enabling sur gical units to continue treating victims of the conflict and respond to other emergencies. Between them, these hospitals treated some 29,000 in-patients and 144,000 out-patients and performed more than 11,500 operations.

The ICRC also provided medical supplies to a further nine hospitals, as well as the Central Blood Bank and Radiology Department of the Ministry of Public Health.

Nine Afghan Red Crescent clinics in the east and south of the country received supplies and financial support, allowing them to continue to offer general consultations and vaccinations for women and children.

To aid war-wounded people in remote areas of the country lacking proper medical facilities, the ICRC also provided 525 consignments of medical equipment for first aid and pre-hospital care.

 Rehabilitation for the disabled  

Between January and July 2008, the six ICRC-supported orthopaedic centres in Kabul, Mazar, Herat, Gulbahar, Faizabad and Jalalabad:

  • registered over 3,500 new patients and produced almost 8,500 prostheses and orthoses;

  • organized in excess of 102,000 physiotherapy sessions;

  • granted business start-up loans to more than 300 patients, while 140 were trained for various jobs;

  • assisted some 1,200 patients with spinal cord injuries, carrying out over 2,400 home-care visits in Kabul alone.

    

 Water and habitat  

In the first half of 2008, the ICRC:

  • completed one urban water-supply project in Jalalabad and three in Mazar, benefiting 20,000 people;

  • continued work on three wat er-supply projects in Herat, Kandahar and Maimana, as well as four smaller projects in Bamyan, which in total will benefit 33,000   people;

  • continued to ensure basic access to water and sanitary facilities for over 5,000 detainees in the Kabul, Kapisa, Jalalabad, Farah, Herat, Samanghan, Mazar, Sheberghan, Ser-i-Pul, Badakhshan and Baghlan provinces;

  • gave over 650 public presentations on hygiene to 9,500 people in hammams, schools and mosques, and gave information and practical advice to more than 3,750 households (over 20,700 individuals);

  • continued to maintain the general infrastructure of Mirwais hospital in Kandahar and the surgical wards of Jalalabad Public Health Hospital 1.

    

 Emergency assistance  

Working with the Afghan Red Crescent Society, the ICRC continued to provide emergency assistance to people displaced by the armed conflict and without adequate shelter and to those who have been severely affected by natural disasters.

Between January and July 2008, this consisted of over 6,000 food kits (rice, beans, ghee, salt, sugar and tea) and more than 5,000 non-food kits (tarpaulins, blankets, jerry cans, kitchen sets and soap).

These supplies were distributed to some 5,000 families (35,000 people) in the Kandahar, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces, in southern Afghanistan and in parts of eastern and central Afghanistan, and countrywide to almost 2,000   families (13,000 individuals) affected by heavy snowfall and harsh winter temperatures, particularly in the west of the country.

 Promotion of international humanitarian law  

ICRC staff held 119 sessions on international humanitarian law (IHL) for in excess of 3,000 people, including provincial authority representatives, Afghan Red Crescent Society staff and volunteers, community elders, members of religious circles, journalists and university students.

A further 55 IHL sessions were held for nearly 2,000 serving members of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, and more than 40 IHL briefings took place with Afghan military authorities, international mentors and legal advisors who train the national army.

 Cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent Society and mine risk education  

Lending further technical and financial support to the Afghan Red Crescent Society to boost its capacity to deliver programmes and services, the ICRC:

  • supported some 370 trainees and 180 teachers in the ICRC’s vocational training programme;

  • assisted five training sessions for over 30 National Society dissemination staff;

  • supported almost 140 training sessions for more than 3,200 community-based first aid (CBFA) volunteers;

  • supplied more than 35,500 first aid kits to over 14,500 CBFA volunteers, retrained some 1,000 CBFA team leaders and trained more than 1,450 new volunteers in Kabul and the provinces;

  • staged, with the help of 39 ARCS disseminators trained with ICRC support, over 8,900 information sessions for more than 89,000 people attending Afghan Red Crescent health clinics for treatment;

  • completed 145 food-for-work projects that benefited in excess of 65,000 families.

In support of the National Society’s mine risk education programme, the ICRC’s mine a ction teams held over 10,000 sessions in more than 3,000 locations for over 80,000 adults and 145,000 children.