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The ICRC in Afghanistan: update of activities April – June 2004

30-06-2004 Operational Update

The ICRC has been present in Afghanistan since 1986. Its main delegation is in Kabul, with sub-delegations in Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan Central and Jalalabad. There are ICRC offices in Gulbahar, Ghazni, Kunduz, Faizabad and Bamyan.

The following is an overview of activities in Afghanistan between April and June 2004.


According to its international mandate, the ICRC visits detainees held as a result of conflict by the Afghan authorities and the US forces to ensure that they are treated humanely and can communicate with their families through the exchange of Red Cross Messages (RCMs).


Between April - June 2004 ICRC protection teams:

  • visited 1,670 detainees in 40 places of detention, out of which some 470 detainees were seen and registered for the first time,

  • provided assistance to around 50 released detainees to go home,

  • collected and distributed nearly 4,000 RCMs with the close collaboration of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) out of which around 3,000 were exchanged with detainees.


The ICRC helps the Afghan authorities to provide training and effective surgical, medical, obstetric and pediatric care. It also assists the authorities with the provision of parallel support services such as radiology, laboratories, blood banks and blood transfusion services, according to universally accepted minimum standards, to nine Ministry of Health hospitals situated in urban, regional and provincial areas.

Between April - June 2004 health facilities assisted by the ICRC:

  • provided services to some 16,000 in-patients and 67,500 outpatients,

  • performed over 10,000 operations.

The ICRC also provided medical supplies to 11 additional health facilities.

Water and Habitat 

One of the ICRC's core tasks is to maintain access to drinking water for populations affected by conflict. The disruption and destruction of water structures and distribution systems can have disastrous health consequences. In Afghanistan, the ICRC's work includes re-establishing urban and rural water networks, sanitation projects and rehabilitation work in hospitals. Hygiene promotion and environmental health training are part of this programme.

Between April - June 2004 the hygiene promotion teams:

  • gave presentations to nearly 82,000 people in four provincial sub-delegations,

  • visited around 8,000 households,

  • conducted around 650 hygiene promotion sessions in boys and girls schools and madrassas.


Promotion of international humanitarian law (IHL) 

The ICRC's humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening compliance with IHL.

Between April and June 2004 dissemination teams conducted:

  •  two law of armed conflict (LOAC) seminars for around 100 officers of the Afghan National Army,    

  •  twenty-one dissemination sessions for local journalists, youth, authorities and community volunteers.

Orthopedic Services 

The ICRC has been involved in orthopedic and rehabilitation assistance to disabled people; landmine victims and people suffering from poliomyelitis since 1988. During that time over 60,000 patients (including nearly 29,000 amputees) have been registered and assisted. Currently, the ICRC runs six orthopedic centers in Kabul, Mazar, Herat, Gulbahar, Faizabad and Jalalabad. Approximately 80 % of the amputees assisted are mine victims.


Between April - June 2004 the orth opedic centers:

  • registered some 1,600 new patients, made around 3,500 prostheses and orthoses,

  • gave 35,400 physiotherapy treatments,

  • granted micro credit loans to 134 patients to start their own business ventures.

  • made 714 homecare visits to paraplegic patients in Kabul.

Mine Action 

The ICRC aims to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), by gathering information on the cause of accidents and the location of mine/UXOs. This information is shared with demining agencies. Together with the ARCS, the ICRC also promotes safe behaviour through mine risk education (MRE) sessions with communities at risk.


Between April - June 2004 mine risk education teams held:

  • around 3,000 MRE sessions in some 1,900 locations, for 25,500 adults and 37,000 children,

  • interviewed 200 new mine/UXO victims, of whom 20 were combatants.

Cooperation with Afghan Red Crescent Society 

The ICRC, as part of the Red Cross, Red Crescent Movement, assists the ARCS technically and financially to build its capacity to be able to deliver various programmes and services to the community.

Between April - June 2004 the Cooperation department:

  • supported 1,312 trainees in the vocational training programme (VTP),

  • supported 605 trainers, involved in ARCS VTP projects throughout the country,

  • completed 59 food for work (FFW) projects, benefiting approximately 18,000 families.

ARCS Marastoons 

The ARCS marastoons are social institutions with a long history, traditionally focusing on providing temporary shelter for destitute people. With the offer of vocational training and work experience, they help people return to their communities. The German Red Cross runs this project through the ICRC.

The marastoons currently accommodate 420 people in need, of whom 56 % are under 18 years age. With the offer of vocational training and work experience, they help people return to their communities. Between April - June 2004, a total of four families ( 21 person) returned to their communities.