Afghanistan: Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement reach milestone of 35 years serving communities in need

After 35 years of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have reconfirmed their commitment to continue jointly providing lifesaving assistance to communities affected by war and violence.

Over the past several decades, the Movement has reconnected 1000s of families separated by disasters or violence; provided vital health care particularly for communities living in remote part of the country; clarified the fate of the dead and worked to return the remains of the deceased to their families; restored water and shelter among other vital humanitarian activities. ARCS mobilisation of all teams and facilities on COVID response over the past year and its commitment to continue its engagement, including for COVID vaccine rollout.

Present and active in Afghanistan's 34 provinces through a wide network of local branches, volunteers and health facilities, ARCS reach every year more than 10% of the Afghan population through principled humanitarian action. It has built trust and acceptance across the lines of conflict and with the Afghan communities they belong to.

ARCS has also the privilege to belong to the Red Cross and Crescent Movement which has been standing on its side always to support its development, meet the needs of people affected by disasters and crises and contribute to build more resilient Afghan communities. Said Dr Nilab Mobarez the Secretary-General of Afghanistan Red Crescent Society in a news conference.

"Although the shape of conflict and violence may have changed over the last decades, our commitment to protect civilians and promote respect for international humanitarian law has been constant. We're proud of this and honoured to continue to work with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to provide humanitarian assistance," said Juan Pedro Schaerer, Head of Delegation for ICRC in Afghanistan.

"In the face of protracted vulnerabilities, including to climate change, the magnitude and intensity of the needs across the country call for enhanced cooperation of Red Cross Red Crescent partners to deepen our support to ARCS' principled and nation-wide footprint, and to maximise our collective contribution and impact" say Pierre Kremer, Head of Delegation for IFRC.

Against the backdrop of this milestone, the Movement has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and a Movement Coordination Agreement setting out their agreement to jointly deliver humanitarian assistance. This event aims to ensure a partnership of quality and mutual responsibility that seeks to achieve the highest humanitarian impact. The agreement sets a standard framework for administration, reporting and accountability, within which individual projects and initiatives can take place.

The ICRC and ARCS have worked in partnership since 1986 in addressing the conflict-related needs of the Afghan population. The ICRC and ARCS's commitment to neutral, independent, impartial humanitarian action (NIIHA), enable both partners to respond to emergencies and provide services where others cannot.

ARCS has worked to reduce suffering for people affected by disasters, conflict and violence since its creation in 1934.

The cooperation between ARCS and the ICRC stretches back further to the recognition of ARCS as a national society by movement in 1954 continuing to the present day with adaptations based on evolving humanitarian landscape, needs of the victims and other vulnerable persons as well as the institutional development of the ARCS and the operational ambitions of the ICRC in Afghanistan.

The Federation has had a constant presence in Afghanistan since 1990, to support ARCS and its humanitarian activities.