ICRC activities in Mazar-e-Sharif
Medical Care for War Wounded
ICRC Mazar Sub delegation, continues to provide medical assistance, technical support and monitoring to seven hospitals in Northern Afghanistan, which include Maimana Military, Maimana Civilian, Shebergan Military, Mazar Military, Pul-e-Khumri Textile, Kunduz Civilian and Taloqan Civilian Hospitals. The program aims at assisting war wounded and emergency surgical patients.
ICRC assistance to these hospitals includes the provision of pharmaceuticals, surgical material, medical consumables, medical equipment and patient care-related material. ICRC has also assisted with the rehabilitation of sanitary installations, operation theatres, laundry and sterilisation rooms, pharmacies and kitchens among others.
ICRC also supports several First Aid Posts along active front lines with limited surgical material and, through the seven assisted hospitals, with dressing material for the stabilisation of freshly war wounded patients before they are referred to the next hospital.
All the services assisted by ICRC are openly accessible and free of charge for any patient, female or male, adult or child, military or civilian, as long as they are war wounded or emergency surgical cases.
During the period of January to March 2001, more than 2000 patients have been admitted and treated in the seven ICRC supported hospitals in the North.
The ICRC Orthopaedic centre of Mazar-e-Sharif was established in 1991, as one of currently five orthopaedic centres in Afghanistan (Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat and Gulbahar). It assists all war wounded and war related orthopaedic cases without discrimination.Trained physio helpers and orthopaedic technicians are ready to assess, advise and provide treatment for patients in need of artificial limbs, callipers or orthoses, wheelchairs or physiotherapy exercise. The main pathologies treated are amputations (upper and lower limbs), paraplegia, poliomyelitis and congenital deformities .
The Orthopaedic centre is working closely together with the ARCS branches of the Northern provinces, in order to assist in the selection of orthopaedic patients. If referred by one of these ARCS branches (except for the Mazar branch) the patients are offered transportation assistance and accommodation in the dormitory for the full treatment period.
Paraplegic patients and very young children need to be accompanied by one of their relatives. A separate fully equipped female section accommodated any female patients.
The treatment, which is free of charge and might last from a couple of days up to several weeks, until the maximum rehabilitation has been achieved.
Since beginning of 2001, other programs such as additional assistance for vulnerable paraplegics, vocational training and sports for young disabled in Balkh province, have been incorporated in our activities.
The centre, located at Kharte Amani, is open from 08 00 AM to 16 00 PM, from Saturdays to Wednesdays, and from 08 00 AM to 13 00 PM on Thursdays.
During the year 2000, the Mazar Orthopaedic Centre has provided :
Pr ostheses 899
Pairs of crutches 700
Physiotherapy treatments 16'000
At present, 8100 patients are registered in Mazar .
Water and Sanitation works in urban areas
ICRC is currently finalising plans to start a new program in the public health domain. District 8 of Mazar city has been chosen together with the local community as a pilot site for a private Latrine construction project. In a first stage, ICRC will initiate and assist the construction of 1500 private latrines, aiming at improving the sanitary public health among the population living in the chosen District.
Food and Non Food assistance for people affected by the conflict
In the last five months, ICRC was involved in two major relief operation targeting vulnerable people affected by the ongoing conflict as well as by the current drought situation.
In Pul-e-Khumri, Bahlan and Kunduz Provinces, more than 3000 war displaced families, seeking shelter in various public buildings and tented camps were assisted with more than 300 tons of wheat, rice, split peas and ghee, as well as various non-food items such as wooden beams, tarpaulins and bukharis, aiming at improving the living conditions of these desperate people.
ICRC, with the full support of the IEA authorities, also conducted a relief operation into the Opposition controlled Dar-e-Suf region, assisting 2000 most vu lnerable families with 150 kg of wheat and 16 kg of ghee each. This operation finished during the first day of Eid, was mostly aimed at freeing remaining small quantities of local wheat for spring wheat seeding.
The 2001 ICRC Agricultural program is implemented in the three districts: Khanabad, Daulatabd and Charbolak. The main pillar of the program consists in rehabilitating irrigation systems via canal cleaning. In the first three months of the program, 1360 workers have been cleaning more than 50 kilometres of irrigation canals in the whole of Khanabad District, improving the water availability on more than 8400 hectares of irrigated land. A majority of the workers have been selected among the Internally Displaced people currently staying in the area. They have so far received 68 tons of wheat for the workdone to date.
1000 individually selected small scale farmers have each also received 8 tree saplings (Apricot, Apple and Per) each
Detention - Protection
ICRC visits and registers persons detained in relation to the conflict. According to its standard procedures which are implemented worldwide by ICRC, private talks are held between the detainees and the delegates. All information gathered during such prison visits are treated in strict confidentiality, and may be shared only with those responsible for running the prison. At the end of each visit ICRC seeks constructive dialogue with the Authorities regarding the conditions of detention.
Whenever necessary, ICRC submits recommendations to the Authorities for improving the situation for detainees, and in some cases may also give help directly, in the form of improved sanitation or Winter/Summer clothing assistance for example.
Through Red Cross Messages (RCMs), detainees get an important opportunity to have contact with their loved ones, to send and receive messages, even if separated by a front-line.
As with all its other programs, ICRC carries out its detention activities in Afghanistan with the same neutral and impartial methodology on both sides of the conflict.
In the North, delegates regularly visit detainees and prisons which are located in 9 different regions throughout the North, from Faryab in the West to Takhar in the East. These visits take place on both sides of the front-line.
As the normal means of communication have been disrupted by the conflict, ICRC, in co-operation with local branches of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, arranges for the exchange of letters - Red Cross Messages (RCMs). This RCM system is available for use by anyone who has no other means of contact with their family or friends. In the last six months, ICRC Mazar has collected 1717 messages and distributed 767.
ICRC also assists in repatriation and in the reuniting of families separated as a result of the conflict.
One of the mandates of the ICRC in a country affected by war is to disseminate International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This has the aim of decreasing the suffering of all the actors and victimes of a conflict, for instance: wounded, combatants, detainees, and the civilian population in general.
Furthermore, the ICRC must inform these IHL protected people about the services it offers, for instance: assistance to hospitals, running of orthopedic-centers, distribution of Red Cross Messages (RCM's), conducting relief operations, implementing agro- programs etc.
Therefore the ICRC conducts regular visits to all the checkpoints as well as to several Madrassas and Military Bases in the North in order to inform all the Arm Carriers of its services, its mandate and in order to introduce the ICRC and its emblem to the aforementioned.
However the means of communication in Afghanistan are limited, and therefore in order to pass the messages mentione d above to a wider audience, the ICRC has newly implemented a Radio Program.
Since the 19th of February 2001, the broadcasting of the Radio program " In the fold of humanity " has started. In co-operation with Radio Shariat Balkh this program is being broadcast in both, Dari & Pashto.
This 12 minutes Radio Program which is being broadcast in Pashto language every Monday at 7:30 PM and every Tuesday at 09:00 AM and in Dari language every Thursday at 07:15 PM and every Friday at 11:00 AM consist of a Drama named " Help " , International Humanitarian Law (IHL- spots and topics), as well as interviews regarding the activities of the ICRC Mazar and the Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society in general are also presented.
Mines Data Collection
ICRC, through the seven hospitals assisted, its Ortho centre, as well as in collaboration with clinics run by the Afghan Red Crescent Society and other humanitarian organisations, is collecting and analysing data on mine and unexploded ordinance (UXO) casualties. These data are used for both, directly improving victim assistance, as well as indicating risk areas with important numbers of mine/UXO incidents. The data is regularly shared with the relevant mine awareness and mine clearance agencies working in Afghanistan.
In order to rehabilitate and create new infrastructures in favor of the civilian community affected by the war, ICRC Mazar, through ARCS (Afghan Red Crescent Society), implements the so called Food for Work projects. This program consists mostly of the rehabilitation of water related infrastructures such as digging wells, repairing springs or cleaning irrigation canals and Kariz systems. The workers, who are chosen among the most vulnerable within the community, are paid at the end of the projects with 5 kg of wheat per labour day.
27 wells, 2 springs and 2 canals were rehabilitated through different ARCS branches in the North over the course of the year 2000, and 52.8 tons of wheat grain have been distributed to the workers while 12'700 families altogether will profit from the new infrastructures.
Throughout the year, ICRC Mazar supports financially the ARCS Northern branches in their work related to the distribution of Red Cross Messages, dissemination of humanitarian values through seminars and boards, and food distributions to the most vulnerable (25 tons of wheat, rice, split peas and ghee per month). ICRC Mazar also supports ARCS Mazar to run its Marastoon.
Published by ICRC Sub-delegation in Mazar-e-Sharif, March 2001