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Afghan Conflict - Budget Extension Appeal - 6 May 2002


Because its Afghan staff had remained in place in all its offices around the country, the ICRC was able to swiftly resume priority programmes after the war. These focused on the areas hardest hit by conflict and drought: Ghor and areas around former front lines in the north, where the ICRC's work was concentrated before September. New operations were set up in Bamiyan and Dar-i-Suf, drought-affected areas which had changed hands several times in recent years.



 Executive summary  

· As Afghanistan struggles to regain stability after the defeat of the Taliban regime, it is progressing toward the formation of a broad-based government, through a plan outlined by the Bonn Agreement. However, the process remains fragile, particularly outside of Kabul where local leaders still compete for influence in the political process. The population still has enormous problems meeting basic needs: refugees and IDPs are returning to areas devastated by drought and conflict, and along with the impoverished populations who remained, need help to resume agricultural production. Thousands of captives remain detained, some by authorities that are as yet unable to meet their basic needs, and Coalition-led military oper ations continue in some areas.

· Since the return of expatriates in November the ICRC's emergency food assistance has focused on areas hard-hit by drought and conflict. Activities include resuming operations in Ghor and northern areas around former front lines, and starting new ones in Bamiyan. In a first phase, ending in February, these operations delivered 11,000 tonnes of food to over 750,000 beneficiaries.

The ICRC has also visited over 5, 400 detainees and prisoners, including over 600 held by US forces. Its continued medical assistance has helped keep surgical services open, and a new project reopened the hospital in Bamiyan.

ICRC engineers improved water supply and sanitation conditions for 850,000 civilians in quick-impact projects, helping maintain utilities in all the major cities. These activities will continue through the year. 

While rations will be distributed until harvests are sufficient to cover basic needs, the ICRC has also distributed seeds and other agricultural assistance to help over 1 million beneficiaries resume agricultural production. In addition, the ICRC maintains contingency stocks for 175,000 beneficiaries to permit it to respond should new emergencies arise.


 General situation  


After more than two decades of fighting, compounded by severe drought and recent earthquakes, many Afghans have exhausted their means of livelihood and remain deeply dependent on international assistance. Large numbers of Afghans are still displaced, or are living as refugees; many, however, are returning to their homes with the relative stability that has been established since US-led military operations and United Front advances led to the collapse of the Taliban.

The political process for establishing a broad-based government, in accordance with the 5 December 2001 Bonn Agreement, is underway. The Afghan Interim Authority (AIA), headed by Hamid Karzai, is working to consolidate its authority and to reduce ethnic rifts widened by years of conflict. It is in the process of selecting a new Loya Jirga , the traditional assembly gathering representatives of all the country's religious and ethnic groups, for a first session in mid-year. The Loya Jirga will then establish an Afghan Interim Government, planned to govern until elections in 2004. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been deployed in Kabul on the basis of UN resolution 1386. Making no claim to the throne, former king Zahir Shah arrived in Kabul in April. It is hoped that his return will be a unifying factor, and support the political process. Finally, last winter's precipitation may lessen the consequences of the drought, and, although it is still too early to say, may allow farmers to gather a good harvest this summer.

These developments raise hopes that the people of Afghanistan will now be able to start repairing the damage accumulated over decades of war, and enter into a period of post-war reconstruction. Stability, however, remains fragile. While ISAF has improved the security in Kabul, local leaders remain in control of other main cities and sporadic clashes between rivals highlight the risk that the situation could deteriorate. Members of the Loya Jirga have yet to be selected, and the process may heighten friction between different groups, particularly in areas that are ethnically diverse. International military operations, w hich continue as Coalition forces pursue pockets of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in areas along the border with Pakistan, may have an impact on tensions. They also limit the access of humanitarian organizations to the civilian population in some areas of the southeast. 


 Humanitarian response  

In the period immediately after the return of its expatriate staff to Afghanistan, the ICRC concentrated on meeting the most urgent needs of prisoners and detainees, and civilians hardest hit by conflict and drought. Beginning their return in mid-November, and in most areas arriving within days of the fall of the Taliban, expatriate staff returned to all the locations where the ICRC had worked. Because its Afghan staff had remained in place in all its offices around the country, the ICRC was able to swiftly resume priority programmes. These focused on the areas hardest hit by conflict and drought: Ghor and areas around former front lines in the north, where the ICRC's work was concentrated before September. New operations were set up in Bamiyan and Dar-i-Suf, drought-affected areas which had changed hands several times in recent years.


 Residents, IDPs, returnees  

During a first phase, lasting from November through February, the ICRC distributed 11,000 tonnes of food to over 750,000 Afghans. As this focused on areas hardest hit by fighting and drought, it helped prevent the displacement of residents who had stayed, and supported the return of the many families who had been forced to flee. In March ICRC began a shift toward agricultural assistance, aiming to provide seeds in time to plant for summer harvest. To cover increases in population from influxes of returnees, target estimates are higher in October than in May. Since IDPs are now able to return home, last year's programmes targeting IDP's will not be continued, but the ICRC will remain ready to respond to new emergencies, keeping contingency stocks.


 Health assistance  

Since the hospital in Bamiyan was looted and abandoned, the ICRC provided the repairs, equipment, medicine and supplies, and some staff needed to reestablish hospital services for a population of some 100,000 people. It also continued its support of surgical services. By providing medicines, supplies, repairs, and salary support to six surgical referral hospitals around the country, and ad hoc medicines, supplies and repairs to other hospitals in the north, it enabled these facilities to ensure surgical services for an average of 3,000 inpatients and 27,000 outpatients per month. Until the situation stabilized, it gave one-off emergency assistance including food and medicines, and made building, water and sanitation repairs to keep other essential medical facilities working. All six ICRC-run physical rehabilitation centres stayed open, and fitted prostheses for an average of over 350 disabled persons a month. In all major cities, ICRC engineers repaired or maintained utilities to keep up the population's water supply and sanitation networks, in quick-impact projects that benefited over 831,000 civilians. In Kabul the ICRC provided stoves, fuel, blankets and plastic sheets to help 20,000 impoverished families survive winter cold in the city's poorest and most run-down districts.

 Prisoners and detainees  

Many fighters had been captured in the United Front offensive. In some cases their very surviva l was threatened by risks of reprisal, precarious living conditions, and lack of medical care. Delegates were able in most areas to visit detainees according to ICRC procedures, and in some cases, distributed large amounts of food and other essentials to ensure the detainees'survival until authorities could take over. Since returning in November the ICRC has visited over 5,400 prisoners and detainees, and continues regular visits. It has also visited prisoners of war held by American forces. It is developing a strategy to address the problem of those gone missing since October.

 Access & security  

With supply routes to Afghanistan working well, the ICRC has closed offices in Turkmenabad and Quetta which managed alternative pipelines set up in October. It has established a new presence both in Samangan and in Shiberghan. Security and working conditions are acceptable in most parts of the country, but areas of Coalition-led operations in the east are off-limits for security reasons.

 Humanitarian coordination  

The ICRC and the International Federation worked together to provide relief after recent earthquakes, and are cooperating closely to help the ARCS rebuild itself and develop its capacities. Some of the assistance planned in this appeal will be carried out by National Societies as delegated projects; 17 such projects are underway.

UN agencies and many international NGOs are now present in most areas of Afghanistan, but are mainly concentrated in the cities. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was formed at the end of March to coordinate UN relief and reconstruction in Afghanistan. The large number of organizations has made coordination crucial if assistance is to reach those most in need, effectively improve their circumstances, and support processes of reconstruction and reconciliation. To avoid confusion, duplication, and gaps that leave the most needy without assistance, the ICRC shares information and coordinates with other humanitarian organizations both in Kabul and in the field.


 Humanitarian issues and ICRC objectives  



Since the fall of the Taliban, there are no longer any clear front lines. Civilians are no longer cut off by combat. Refugees and IDPs have begun to return to their homes in large numbers, and lines of transportation and supply are now open. Some groups, such as non-Pashtuns in the south, Pashtuns in the north, and families of foreign fighters face the risk of reprisal. Because leadership is fragmented, in many areas it is not clear who is responsible for protecting civilians, should violations occur. In areas where Coalition forces are active it is impossible to monitor the situation of civilians. Recent combat and captures, as well as movements of people returning home, have severed family links. People on the move face greater risks of mine/UXO injury as they move through unfamiliar area, as do residents or returnees who try to farm or work in areas that were previously on front lines. New areas and types of mine/UXO contamination, including unexploded cluster bomblets, add to the danger. 


 Objective: Civilians are protected from harassment, intimidation, forcible displacement and are not targeted for attack.

Action :  

· document violations of IHL, identifying patterns and presenting them to authorities at all levels in a dialogue on issues of humanitarian concern; encourage authorities to take measures to prevent and halt patterns identified, and emphasize special problems of women and children


 Objective: Separated family members can maintain contact with one another, and be reunited if separation causes hardship.


Action :  

· continue, with the ARCS, to exchange RCMs between separated family members and assist with family reunification in hardship cases

· increase the reach and reliability of the Red Cross family links network, informing the population of its services and helping to rebuild ARCS tracing activities through training, technical and financial support

 Objective: Families are able to clarify the fate of persons who went missing in the aftermath of events on September 11.

Action :  

· collect information from detainees and POWs on captives which the ICRC has not visited, or on persons who have died

· develop procedures for handling the information on persons gone missing and for submitting enquiries to authorities

 Objective: Accurate information on mine/UXO injuries improves the planning and effectiveness of de-mining and of mine awareness, reducing the incidence of mine/UXO related injuries.


Action :  

· increase the quality and comprehensiveness of mine/UXO data collection in health facilities, and extend data collection to new health facilities and to communities

· continue funding ARCS mine-awareness teams, providing technical support for adapting methods to make them more community-based, to cover new risks, and to better target women and children

· set up 2 ICRC mine-awareness teams in areas (Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif) not covered by other organizations

 Residents affected by conflict and drought  

In some areas, conflict and drought have combined to drastically cut food production and impoverish the population. Weather and topography have frequently cut food supply lines in isolated areas, as has fighting. Many families fled fighting, or left home to find food assistance and are now returning. Others stayed home, but no longer have the means to survive: an ICRC/Federation survey in Ghor early 2001 showed extremely high rates of decapitalization. Winter precipitation offers the hope for a better harvest in the summer of 2002, but irrigation systems have collapsed from damage or lack of maintenance, farm land is often mined, livestock has died or been sold or stolen, and seed sold or eaten. When needs for survival absorb all their resources, farmers are unable to buy seeds, livestock, or tools, or make other investments needed to renew production. 

Ghor, extremely hard-hit by the drought, is one of Afghanistan's most isolated areas and has often bee n cut off by winter conditions and fighting, as have areas around the former front lines in the north. In Bamiyan, many families fled from Taliban control and are now returning. In these areas, steady returns of IDPs and refugees mean that an increasing number of people need assistance.


 Objective: Residents and returnees affected by conflict and drought in Ghor, Bamiyan, and northern areas are able to meet their basic needs for food, and can reactivate agricultural production and reduce livestock loss.

Action :  

In areas affected by fighting and drought in the north, Bamiyan and Ghor:

· distribute food rations (1,200 kcal/person/day X 3 months) to the most needy families, the first targeting 158,000 families (7 persons per family) in May and 165,000 families in October

· restore water supply for 35,000 people in northern areas through quick-impact projects

· distribute 1850 tonnes of wheat seed to 68,000 families (7 persons per family) and 400 tonnes of chickpea seeds to 32,000, so that summer harvest 2002 will provide for their needs for 3 months

· distribute 1,628 tonnes of rain-fed wheat seed, 245 tonnes of irrigated wheat seed, and 184 tonnes of urea to 97,000 families so that summer harvest 2003 will meet their needs for 3 months

· provide health services and train livestock owners to ensure treatment of 350,000 head of livestock to prevent or treat disease and parasites

· rehabilitate 120 irrigation projects in work schemes, run with the ARCS, which provide three months of employment for some 600 families

· train 15,000 farmers with access to irrigated land in techniques to increase the quantity and variety of their production


· establish a stock sufficient to provide food and wheat seed and for up to 25,000 families whose food security is endangered in areas where ICRC assessments have not yet been possible (such as Faryab, Pakhtia, and Badghis)

· provide logistic support for immunization campaigns

· coordinate with other organizations to exchange information on needs assessments and initiate a food security early warning system

 Internally displaced persons (IDPs)  

Hundreds of thousands displaced families have not yet returned home. In Mazar-i-Sharif some 385,000 IDPs live with host families, in abandoned houses, or in spontaneous camps. Estimates of IDPs living in established camps in Herat range from 100,000 to 250,000. In some camps vital international assistance was interrupted by events in 2001. Although the rate of return is increasing with the arrival of planting season, the situation is volatile in many provinces and outbreaks of fighting could set off new population displacements.

 Objective: IDPs established in camps and unable to return to their homes are able to meet their most essential needs.

Action :  

· establish contingency stock to provide food for up to 175,000 IDP families and other essential items for 25,000 IDPs, and distribute them in camps if other organizations are not covering urgent needs

· establish emergency stock of materials needed to build or repair water systems, washing sites, latrines, refuse disposal and vector control to provide water supply for up to 700,000 IDPs, and be prepared to truck water and provide emergency water supply as needed

· monitor health security of IDP populations and provide ad hoc support to Ministry of Health facilities providing health care to them, maintaining medical stocks sufficient to respond to the needs for basic health care of 50,000 IDPs for one month

 Urban populations  

Urban water supply, electrical, and sanitation infrastructure remains heavily damaged or very poorly maintained, and population increases due to the return of IDPs or refugees overburden even functioning systems. The dependence of urban populations on piped water supply, and their high population density leaves them particularly vulnerable to deterioration in health conditions when utilities do not function well.

 Objective: Water and sanitation systems function well enough to provide safe water supply and acceptable hygiene conditions sufficient to reduce health risks.


· repair piped water systems, build or repair hand pumps and wells, repair city sewage systems, help build latrines and provide sanitation education in and around cities (Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar, Herat and Jalalabad) and provincial towns (Taloqan, Kunduz, Sheberghan,Ghazni, Charikar) benefitting 2.9 million people.


 People deprived of their freedom  

There are over 4,500 persons detained in connection with the internal and international conflict, some by the central government run by the AIA, some by local command ers, and some by Coalition forces. They include Taliban fighters and foreigners alleged to be al Qaeda fighters and civilians accused of collaborating with them. There is no one authority that controls all those held, and no clear judicial system is in place yet. It is often unclear which authority is responsible for detainees, making follow-up difficult as they are moved from one place to another. In some cases persons detained do not have adequate living conditions: in Shiberghan prison, for example, which is heavily overcrowded, detainees had a high level of malnutrition.   Many detainees were wounded and in need medical care.    

In the conduct of international military operations, prisoners or civilians captured or detained by international actors are held inside and outside Afghanistan: so far, about 600 prisoners have been registered in the hands of US forces.


 Objective: All prisoners and detainees held in connection with the conflict are treated humanely and are afforded adequate living conditions and medical care, in accordance with the standards laid down by IHL. Prisoners of war captured or civilians detained in connection with the international military action are held in accordance with the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, respectively, and the ICRC is notified of their capture or arrest and is able to visit them.


· continue regular visits to POWs and detainees, either within Afghanistan or elsewhere, in accordance with standard ICRC procedures

· maintain a dialogue with authorities about their obligations regarding the treatment, living conditions, medical care, family contact, or other aspects of detention, with particul ar emphasis on the specific problems of vulnerable groups such as women, children, and foreigners

· continue to seek access to all persons held in connection with the conflict

· support maintenance of prison water supply and sanitary facilities in places of detention

· distribute food and articles such as blankets, clothing, water containers and soap on a temporary, ad hoc basis in cases where detainees'well-being is threatened by authorities'inability to provide for basic needs


 Wounded and sick  

 Hospital care  

The health care system in Afghanistan has been debilitated by the disruption of war. Hospitals are short of human and financial resources, and current authorities have not yet had time to mobilize the funding or expertise needed to reorganize and rebuild the country's health system. Until a national health plan has established priorities for reconstruction, existing health structures need to be upheld so that the population can receive health care.


 Objective: In major population centres, the wounded and sick are able to receive adequate surgical, obstetric, medical, paediatric and outpatient services in at least one secure hospital; in areas recently affected by fighting people are able to get basic hospital care. 


Action :  

· continue to provide supplies, equipment, fuel, salary support and building and utility maintenance needed to maintain hospital services for 3,000 inpatients a month in six key referral centres located around the country in major population centres; discontinue this high level of assistance for Gulbahar by June 2002

· provide medicines and supplies to cover up to half of the needs of 10 other hospitals and clinics, many of them in the north, until the end of 2002

· upgrade infrastructure and equipment, provide medicines and supplies, and improve level of care and management in hospitals in Bamiyan, Samangan, Taloqan, and Kunduz, enabling them to re-establish or improve the capacity of hospital services in their areas

· provide equipment, technical support, and training needed to upgrade radiology services, blood banks, and care of paraplegics in hospitals receiving other ICRC support

· distribute needed medicines and supplies and upgrade infrastructure and equipment and improve the quality of care and management to ensure that up to 10 clinics are able to provide basic health care for populations where ICRC provides food / agricultural assistance



 Physical rehabilitation  

Tens of thousands of Afghan amputees need prostheses replaced every three years: the ICRC has registered and treated some 20,000 of them, and mines and UXO continue to disable people around the country. Population movements and new UXO contamination from recent bombing increase the risk of injuries. Poor water and sanitation facilities combined with inadequate immunization cov erage lead to growing rates of paralysis from polio, and other accidents and injury leave thousands more in need of prostheses or orthoses. The disabled have few opportunities to reintegrate into society.


 Objective: Amputees, paraplegics and people with other disabilities receive suitable care, rehabilitation and help with reintegrating into their families and communities.


· reach an annual production of 5,000 prostheses, 7,000 orthoses, and 10,000 pairs of crutches and 1,200 wheelchairs, fit prostheses/orthoses and provide needed physiotherapy for over 6,000 new patients in 6 ICRC rehabilitation centres

· give home care for 330 paraplegics in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Jalalabad; provide education, job training, job placement, and micro-financing to provide job training for over 800 disabled persons receiving care at ICRC rehabilitation centres 

· provide workshops run by other organizations with components for producing 1,500 prostheses

· work with health authorities to encourage official recognition, through diplomas or certificates, for technical staff employed in ICRC rehabilitation centres




The Afghan Interim Administration (AIA) is in the process of selecting the Loya Jirga, an assembly of leaders which will begin to appoint the Afghan Interim Government. In many provinces, policies still depend on local authorities who have not been fully integrated into the central government.   Afghan authorities, international authorities, and local leaders are bound by IHL to respect and protect civilians, the wounded and sick, and persons no longer taking part in hostilities.    


 Objective: International and Afghan officials, as well as local leaders, understand and respect their obligations under IHL. They facilitate the work of the ICRC and engage in a dialogue on issues of humanitarian concern.


Action :  

· build a network of contacts within the government as it forms, raising issues of humanitarian concern and paving the way for the implementation of IHL instruments to which Afghanistan is party, and for the ratification of other IHL instruments.


 Armed forces and other bearers of weapons  


The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) maintains order in Kabul, but in the provinces many different armed groups remain, often commanded by local leaders who are not yet fully integrated into the central government.   The Ministry of Defence has announced the establishment of a national army: its first battalion of 600 men, drawn from different factions and trained by ISAF instructors, is based at the presidential palace. It is planned that US forces will take over army training. US-led Coalition forces are still active in some regions of the country.


 Objective: Armed forces respect their obligations under IHL in the conduct of hostilities, enforcing compliance with its rules by all forces under their control so that all bearers of weapons spare civilians, the wounded and sick, and those no longer taking part in hostilities, treating them humanely and ensuring adequate living conditions.

Action :  

· develop a network of contacts within the national army as it forms, urging that orders be issued to respect the rules of IHL in all military operations, and that instruction of IHL be included in developing military training programmes

· produce and distribute IHL training manual in Dari and Pashtu languages for use by IHL instructors, as well as a basic brochure to introduce IHL to soldiers

· give sessions on the rules of wars to commanders and leaders of fighting groups

· organize dissemination sessions for international forces to explain the ICRC mandate and activities as well as to stimulate discussion of the principles of IHL


 Civil society  

Afghanistan has a low literacy rate and little printed media. The fall of the Taliban and the establishment of the AIA has created a new atmosphere that opens more possibilities for promoting the values underlying IHL to the leaders and institutions of civil society which influence public opinion and official policy.


 Objective: The Afghan population respects the values underlying IHL, understands the role of the ICRC and facilitates its activities, and is attentive to issues of humanitarian concern.


Action :  

· maintain contacts with media and pass information on humanitarian issues, ICRC activities, and IHL through newsletters, fact sheets, press releases and radio messages, videos and interviews

· organize seminars for journalists, round tables and briefing

· continue contributing storylines to BBC radio soap opera for the Afghan public

· organize seminars on Red Cross/Red Crescent principles for teachers, contact education departments to promote interest in the Exploring Humanitarian Law programme

· organize a pilot IHL seminar for professors and students of the Jalalabad University Faculty of Law


 National Society  

In the past, management problems and difficulties in abiding by the Movement's Fundamental Principles limited the effectiveness of Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) activities, and the internal conflict compromised its unity. With the change of government, the ARCS has undergone major institutional changes, and the ICRC and the International Federation are working closely to develop the capacities of the National Society. The ARCS works with the ICRC to restore family links and run food-for-work agricul tural projects. The ICRC also supports ARCS marastoons  (homes for the indigent) and vocational education, as well as tracing and dissemination activities.

 Objective: The ARCS respects the Movement’s Fundamental Principles so that it can carry out its tasks efficiently and independently, and has the skills and means to carry out activities in the areas of tracing, dissemination, and conflict preparedness and response.



· work with the International Federation to help the ARCS review its legal base, as well as its structure and staff positions, and train staff in preparation to adopt new systems and procedures

· with the help of other National Societies active in the country, draw up an " institutional project " with the ARCS to clarify the mission of marastoons and improve their management

· give financial support for running costs and salaries of the ARCS tracing programme, help reorganize services at branch and headquarters levels and sponsor 4 training workshops

· work with ARCS to develop its response capacity in times of conflict, in close coordination with the International Federation as it supports the ARCS in the field of disaster preparedness

· organize basic training seminars on Red Cross/Red Crescent principles for ARCS leadership and management at headquarters and branch levels, as well as for other staff and volunteers, paving the way for further development of ARCS dissemination activities; give special attention to involving women and youth in dissemination activities, especially in mine-awareness activities.

In its role as lead agency of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement in Afghanistan, the ICRC works to coordinate and ensure the coherence of a unified response. The International Federation leads efforts to support the development of the National Society, and the two agencies coordinate closely to respond to drought and natural disaster. Many sister national societies are joining in the Movement response in Afghanistan.


 Objective: All support to the ARCS from components of the Movement is put to optimal use through close coordination by all partners, in accordance with the provisions of the Seville Agreement

Action :  

· continue to coordinate the activities of all components of the Movement operating in Afghanistan, work closely with the International Federation to clarify each organization's role, to preserve the unity of the ARCS, and to coordinate international Red Cross/Red Crescent response to drought and natural disasters.

For further information, please contact the External Resources Division.

Ref. P/REX 02/389 - ICRC OP/REX Budget Extension Appeal N° 1/2002

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