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The ICRC in Afghanistan: update of activities July – September 2004

30-09-2004 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 July and September 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 July – August 2004 ICRC protection teams:

  • visited 1,535 detainees in 17 detention places, 208 of whom were registered for the first time,

  • provided assistance to around 29 released detainees to go home,

  • collected and distributed nearly 5,592 RCMs with the close collaboration of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), out of which around 3,304 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 July – August 2004 health facilities assisted by the ICRC:

  • provided services to some 9,940 in-patients and 48,067 outpatients,

  • performed over 6,129 operations.

The ICRC also provided medical supplies to three 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 July – September 2004 the Water and Habitat team:

  • completed the rehabilitation of two hospitals ((Shebergan and Taloqan) and continued the rehabilitation in another hospital (Wazir Akbar Khan in Kabul)

  • carried out maintenance in seven hospitals and constructed waste management sites and incinerators in five hospitals.

  • started three water supply projects in Kabul and Jalalabad for 63,800 beneficiaries.

  • drilled 13 boreholes and fitted handpumps in Kabul for 18,200 beneficiaries. 

  • finished four small rural water supply projects in Bamyan province for 8,000 beneficiaries.

  • continued six water supply projects in Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat for 43,500 beneficiaries.

  • started seven small water system repair projects in Kandahar benefiting 300,000 people

  • emergency interventions to improve water and sanitation in seven places of detention

 Between July – September 2004 the hygiene promotion teams:

  • gave presentation to 47,480 people in four provincial sub-delegations,

  • visited around 4,500 households,

  • conducted around 400 hygiene promotion sessions in 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 July – September 2004 dissemination teams conducted:

  •  two law of armed conflict (LOAC) seminars for around 120 officers of the Afghan National Army,    

  •  sixty-two sessions for 850 local journalists, youth, authorities and community volunteers.

Orthopedic Service 

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 63,418 patients (including nearly 29,301 amputees) have been registered and assisted. Currently, the ICRC runs six orthopedic centers in Kabul, Mazar, Herat, Gu lbahar, Faizabad and Jalalabad. Approximately 80 % of the amputees assisted are mine victims.


 Between July – September 2004 the orthopedic centers:

  • registered some 1,470 new patients and made around 3,402 prostheses and orthoses,

  • gave 35,155 physiotherapy treatments,

  • granted micro credit loans to 179 patients to start their own business ventures.

  • made 747 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 July – August 2004 mine risk education teams held:

  •  1,000 MRE sessions in 540 locations, for 14,500 adults and 17,600 children,

  • interviewed 72 new mine/UXO victims, of whom one was a combatant.

Cooperation with Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) 

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

 Between July – September 2004 the Cooperation department:

  • supported 1,174 trainees in the Vocational Training Programme (VTP),

  • supported 537 trainers, involved in ARCS VTP projects throughout the country,

  • completed 57 Food for Work (FFW) projects, benefiting approximately 19,648 families,

  • supported eight training seminars for 136 FFW/VTP, tracing, and dissemination ARCS staff

 ARCS Marastoon programme  

The ARCS M arastoons 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 supports this programme through the ICRC in the form of a delegated project. 

 Between July - September 2004 , the five Marastoons secured shelter, food and education to 432 people in need, of whom 241 are under 18 years of age. A total number of 18 persons returned to their communities and 28 persons found admittance.