Civilians are paying a heavy toll in the ongoing armed conflict. The last 12 months were marked by large-scale and devastating attacks on the civilian population / CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC / R. Hashempour
A summary of activities carried out by the ICRC in Afghanistan during 2014
Visiting detainees and maintaining family contact
The ICRC visits detainees in Afghanistan and other countries around the world to monitor the conditions in which they are held and the treatment they receive. In 2014, ICRC delegates regularly visited prisons run by the Afghan authorities, by nations contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and by US forces. The ICRC also helps family members separated by conflict to stay in touch with one another, and endeavours to trace missing persons.
In 2014, the ICRC:
- carried out 149 visits in 43 places of detention holding 28,017 detainees;
- followed up individually 1,896 persons arrested in relation to the conflict, of whom 887 were visited for the first time and registered;
- helped 49 released detainees to travel home;
- with support of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, collected more than 3,400Red Cross messages and distributed more than 3,500, mostly between detainees and their families;
- helped families of detainees in the Parwan Detention Facility make 4,180 phone calls to their relatives, and organized 3,197 family visits between relatives and detainees;
- received 383 queries from families about arrested relatives and 491 tracing requests from abroad, of which 454 were successfully resolved;
- facilitated the transfer of 1,372 remains of fighters and civilians to their next-of-kin.
The 444-bed Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar provides treatment and care to wounded and sick people. The ICRC provides support by supplying items such as drugs, medical equipment and consumables, and diagnostic and critical services such as surgery, obstetrics and paediatrics, in line with the Ministry of Public Health's 'Essential Package of Hospital Services' (EPHS).
In north-western Afghanistan the ICRC provided continuous support to the 150-bed Sheberghan Hospital, through the provision of medical supplies (pharmaceutical and consumables), non-medical supplies (stationery, cleaning materials and printing of hospital forms), logistical supplies (fuel and oxygen) and medical equipment. Assistance in maintaining and repairing equipment was also provided, along with quarterly assessments of laboratory facilities.
In 2014, the ICRC:
- provided support to Mirwais and Sheberghan Hospitals, which admitted 80,958 patients to their surgical, medical, obstetric and gynaecology wards, and carried out 17,865 surgical operations. A further 367,470 outpatients attended these hospitals;
- provided first-aid training for 2,504 medical personnel and taxi drivers. In addition a further 842 people were trained by First Aid instructors previously trained by the ICRC;
- provided monthly medical and non-medical supplies to the Koringal Sub-Health Centre in eastern Afghanistan;
- made 75 visits to places of detention to assess the health of detainees;
- provided technical and financial support and medicines to 47 Afghan Red Crescent clinics and to community-based health and first-aid volunteers delivering health care to people in conflict-affected areas;
- continued to support the Ministry of Public Health's clinic for detainees in Sarposa prison in Kandahar and, since April, the Herat Provincial Prison.
Limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation services
The ICRC runs seven prosthetic/orthotic centres in Afghanistan which provide rehabilitation services for amputees and other people with disabilities. The centres help disabled people regain their place in society by providing them with vocational training, micro-credit loans and home education for children. A home-care service offers medical, economic and social support to paraplegics who have difficulty travelling to the centres.
During 2014, ICRC Orthopaedic Centre personnel:
- registered 9,131 new patients, of whom 1,318 were amputees;
- assisted a total of 104,584 patients;
- made 17,325 prostheses and orthoses;
- provided 249,741 physiotherapy treatments to patients;
- granted micro-credit loans to 540 patients to start their own small-business ventures;
- facilitated ongoing vocational training for 185 patients, 164 of whom graduated;
- made 6,946 home visits through the Home Care programme, which assists 1,572 patients with spinal cord injuries and trains the families who care for them.
Food and other aid
In 2014, the ICRC in partnership with the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) provided emergency food and non-food items to 112,168 people displaced by conflict or natural disaster, helping them to meet their basic needs. Assistance was also given to improve infrastructures such as irrigation channels, protection walls and water gates, and 189 cash-for-work projects were completed, enabling households to better protect and cultivate their land, and in turn increase their food production and income.
In addition the ICRC:
- assisted para-veterinarians from local communities in the central and southern regions in de-worming and treating the livestock of 39,695households against different diseases in order to improve the animals' health and productivity;
- conducted livestock training for 1,200 pastoral farmers to increase their capacity to manage and protect their animals, and in addition provided each farmer with a kit containing concentrated animal feed and dairy tools;
- provided 240 households with basic agricultural tools and 16,000 almond saplings to help them establish their own nurseries.
Water and sanitation services
ICRC engineers work closely with local water authorities on various rural water projects, and also promote improved sanitation and hygiene in prisons, detention centres and juvenile rehabilitation centres.
In 2014, the ICRC:
- provided 353,760 people with access to safe water and, through the ongoing hand pump repair programme, enabled, 300,020 people gain access to water for household needs in rural areas of Parwan, Kapisa, Nangarhar, Herat, Farah, Kunduz and Faryab provinces;
- upgraded the living conditions of 39,098 people held in detention centres by renovating or constructing amenities such as kitchens and courtyard shelters, and improving water storage facilities;
- distributed hygiene items among 40,100 detainees and guards in detention centres across Afghanistan;
- commenced construction of a new physical rehabilitation centre in Faizabad.
Working in partnership with the Afghan Red Crescent Society
The ICRC works closely with the Afghan Red Crescent Society and provides it with technical and financial assistance to help it deliver services to the community and implement a range of humanitarian programmes.
In 2014, the ICRC:
- donated four Toyota Land Cruisers to ARCS branches in Paktia, Ghazni, Khost and Faryab, and computers, printers and a motorcycle to the ARCS headquarters;
- supported a workshop for 14 trainers from seven ARCS regional offices with the aim of mitigating security risks to ARCS staff and volunteers;
- supported the development of the ARCS Security Management Framework by conducting safety and security risk assessment workshops;
- supported ARCS provincial assemblies in Jalalabad, Herat, Kapisa, Takhar and Faryab;
- participated, with the ARCS, in an Afghanistan Round Table meeting in Geneva which considered evolving humanitarian needs, security, and constraints which impact on the ability to achieve operational objectives.
Promoting compliance with international humanitarian law
Reminding warring parties of their obligation to protect civilians is a fundamental part of the ICRC's efforts to promote compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL) worldwide. The ICRC also spreads knowledge of IHL among civil society groups, government bodies and academics.
In 2014, the ICRC:
- conducted briefings on its mandate and work for more than 20,000 people, including civil society members, community elders, religious scholars, political authorities, members of the national army, the national police, local police units, the National Directorate of Security, the armed opposition and people receiving ICRC aid.