Round-up of ICRC Activities in Afghanistan between July and September 2014

28 October 2014

Visiting detainees and protecting the civilian population

The ICRC visits detainees in Afghanistan and other countries around the world to monitor the conditions in which detainees are held and the treatment they receive. ICRC delegates regularly make visits at prisons run by Afghan authorities, by nations contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 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.

From July to September 2014, the ICRC

  • carried out 28 visits in 23 places of detention holding some 9,150 detainees, following up individually 390 people arrested in relation to the conflict or the security situation, of whom some 130 were visited for the first time and registered;
  • provided assistance to 11 released detainees travelling home;
  • worked alongside the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) to collect some 470 Red Cross messages (RCMs) and to distribute some 460 RCMs; most of the RCM exchanges involved detainees and their families;
  • helped families of detainees in the Detention Facility in Parwan make some 855 phone calls to their detained relatives;
  • organized some 635 family visits involving relatives and detainees in Bagram, and provided transport to and from the detention facility for the family visits;handled 44 queries from families about arrested relatives;
  • and followed up 54 tracing requests from abroad, of which 43 have been resolved positively;
  • facilitated the transfer to the next-of-kin of some 350 sets of remains of fighters and civilians killed on the battlefield.

Providing health care

The 444-bed Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar is the main referral hospital for 6.8 million people living in the four southern provinces of Afghanistan. The ICRC regularly provides the hospital with drugs, medical equipment and consumables, as well as diagnostic and critical services such as surgery and obstetrics/paediatrics, in line with the Ministry of Public Health's "Essential Package of Hospital Services".

The ICRC regularly provides the 150-bed Sheberghan Hospital in northern Afghanistan with medical supplies (pharmaceutical and consumables), non-medical items (stationery, cleaning materials, equipment and materials for printing hospital forms), logistical supplies (fuel and oxygen) and medical equipment. The ICRC also helps maintain and repair equipment, and it assesses laboratory facilities quarterly.

From July to September 2014, the ICRC

  • supported Mirwais and Sheberghan Hospitals, which together admitted some 10,480 patients to surgical, medical, and obstetrics and gynaecology wards. A total of 62,425 outpatients were assisted and 2,975 surgical operations were performed;
  • made 37 visits to places of detention to check on the health of detainees;provided technical and financial support and medicine to 48 ARCS clinics and to community-based health and first-aid volunteers;gave first-aid training to 685 weapon bearers (including the armed opposition), medical personnel, and taxi drivers engaged in taking the wounded from the front lines to health facilities. Some 90 other people received coaching from first-aid instructors previously trained by the ICRC;
  • provided monthly medical and non-medical supplies to Korongal sub-health centre in eastern Afghanistan;continued to support the Ministry of Public Health's clinic for detainees in Sarposa prison in Kandahar;
  • from April, supported the provincial prison in Herat;
  • continued support to 48 ARCS clinics, which gave outpatient consultations to 201,390 people and administered 119,830 doses of vaccines against common childhood diseases and polio.

Providing limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation services

Since 1988, the ICRC has provided limb-fitting, rehabilitation, and social reintegration services for disabled people, from landmine victims to individuals with motor impairment.

The ICRC runs seven orthopaedic centres – in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Gulbahar, Faizabad and Lashkar Gah. The centres help disabled people regain their place in society by providing the individuals with vocational training, micro-credit loans and home education for their children.

Because paraplegics have difficulty travelling to orthopaedic centres, the ICRC provides medical, economic and social support through its home-care service offered to patients with spinal cord injuries and their families.

From July to September 2014, the ICRC

  • registered 2,120 new patients, of whom 315 were amputees;
  • assisted some 26,100 patients in the seven ICRC orthopaedic centres;made 4,455 prostheses and orthoses;
  • provided 60,570 physiotherapy treatments for patients;granted micro-credit loans to some 120 patients to start their own small business ventures;
  • facilitated the ongoing vocational training of 165 patients; 45 of those graduated between August and September;
  • conducted 1,665 home visits through the home-care program, which assisted 1,560 patients with spinal cord injuries and their families.

Distributing food and other aid

From July to September 2014, the ICRC/ARCS

  • provided emergency food and non-food items so that some 7,050 households (49,360 people) displaced by conflict could meet their basic needs;
  • finalized 39 cash-for-work projects for improved community infrastructure, such as irrigation channels, protection walls and water gates; with improved vital infrastructure, households are able to better protect and cultivate their land, which should in turn help them to increase their food production and income; some 870 people from vulnerable families worked as labourers on these projects, and their wages helped them meet some of their basic needs.

From July to September 2014, the ICRC

  • supported three para-veterinarians from communities in central Afghanistan to deworm and treat livestock of some 2,250 households against different diseases in order to improve the animals' health and productivity, thereby increasing food production;
  • conducted livestock training for 430 farmers, who were also shown how to use animal-health services; in addition, the ICRC provided each of the 430 farmers with a kit containing animal feed and dairy tools; increased food production and income for the farmers were the goals of all of the ICRC involvement;
  • distributed sheep to 360 families, with a view to increasing household food and income production.

Improving water and sanitation services

ICRC engineers worked closely with local water authorities on various rural water projects; the ICRC also promoted improved sanitation and hygiene in prisons, detention centres and juvenile rehabilitation centres.

From July to September 2014, the ICRC

  • trained people to repair and maintain hand pumps, and donated hand-pump spare parts so that at least 198,600 people in rural areas of Parwan, Kapisa, Nangharhar, Herat, Farah, Kunduz and Faryab provinces could have clean water;
  • distributed hygiene items to a total of 31,400 guards and detainees in detention places in central, western, and northern Afghanistan; helped the prison authorities in Balkh and Herat Provincial Prisons to improve their maintenance abilities, through training and support, as well as the donation of maintenance tools;
  • improved water supplies and sanitary conditions for 3,100 detainees in seven places of detention;
  • conducted ongoing renovation and construction work at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar (435 beds).

Promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL)

Reminding the parties to a conflict of their obligation to protect civilians is a fundamental part of ICRC efforts to promote compliance with IHL worldwide. The ICRC also disseminates knowledge of IHL to civil-society groups, government bodies and academics.

From July to September 2014, the ICRC

  • conducted briefings on its mandate and work for 4,862 people, including civil-society members, community elders, religious scholars, political authorities, the national army, the national police, local police, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the armed opposition and people receiving ICRC aid;
  • conducted two training-of-trainers (ToT) sessions for 115 Afghan National Army (ANA) officers and sergeants;
  • organized one ToT session for 50 police officers;
  • presented an IHL dissemination session to 235 ANA officers and sergeants;gave an IHL dissemination session to 1,365 Afghan National Police personnel;
  • organized an IHL dissemination session for 175 armed opposition weapon bearers;
  • conducted an IHL dissemination session for 15 NDS personnel.

Working in partnership with the ARCS

The ICRC works closely with the ARCS, providing it with technical and financial assistance for its community services and other humanitarian programs.

From July to September 2014, the ICRC

  • supported the ARCS HQ to conduct a four-day Annual Operational Planning Process Workshop for 2015; at the workshop, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement components pledged their ongoing assistance to the vulnerable in Afghanistan;
  • supported the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) Committee (consisting of Movement focal points) as it participated in the recently initiated weekly HCiD meetings; Terms of Reference and a Plan of Action (PoA) were drafted and shared with all Movement partners for their comments and approval;
  • donated four Toyota Land Cruisers to the ARCS Paktia, Ghazni, Khost and Faryab branches to strengthen ARCS humanitarian activities;
  • supported the Safe Access ToT workshop conducted at ARCS HQ for 14 trainers from seven regional offices; the workshop objective was to mitigate security risks to ARCS staff and volunteers;
  • supported the development of the ARCS Security Management Framework, through the conducting by the ARCS Safety and Security Team of risk assessment workshops; the workshops took place at the 14 ARCS branches and were for "Community-based Health and First Aid" field officers and dissemination field officers; the assessment process is ongoing;
  • supported the ARCS to strengthen its use of the Safe Access Framework, through the conducting of regional workshops for its staff and volunteers in central south-west and central north-west regions;
  • supported the ARCS steering group as it met at ARCS HQ to discuss the programs of "Emergency Preparedness and Response" and "Strengthening National Society General Statutory Support"; the meeting took place as required by the Partnership Framework Agreement; the PoAs and fund requests were sent to all concerned;
  • supported the ARCS Provincial Assembly in the east region, where the Provincial Head and the five members, one of whom is a woman, were elected.