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Afghanistan: ICRC restores water to Kabul Children's hospital

30-11-2001 News Release 01/47

The Ataturk Children's hospital in Kabul will soon have running water again. Early next week, a crew from the International Committee of the Red Cross will have completed repairs to the pump that supplies water not only to the hospital, but also to the nearby university and a residential area of about 300 families.

Currently, water is being trucked to the hospital every day. Every drop has to be carried to the wards, the kitchen and other departments in buckets. " The old pump had broken down, " explains Georgio Nembrini, the ICRC's coordinator of water and habitation projects for Afghanistan, " but it was a question of finding the right equipment and making the necessary adjustments. "

ICRC crews have restored drinking water to nearly 400,000 people in Kabul since the start of November, by repairing broken water mains or reconnecting pumps to power supplies. In cooperation with the Ministry of Energy and Water in Kabul, the ICRC is carrying out assessments of the city’s electrical system. Of the 740 transformers in the city, only 270 are fully functional. To compound the problem, drought has reduced water levels behind the dams at hydroelectric power stations. Together with faults in the power transmission network, this means that the system is only delivering 50% of the 122 megawatts it should be providing. Electricity for households is rationed between 3.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m., giving priority to large public buildings and facilities such as hospitals.

The ICRC and Ministry engineers are assessing water pumping stations so that repairs can start. " In many large buildings, the piping is defective. As a result, there’s not enough pressure to get the water to the upper floors. " explains Nembrini. " This is another issue we will have to address. "

The ICRC is working with other hospitals to help them prepare for winter, by repairing broken windows and providing fuel for kitchens and heating stoves. Similar winterization assistance is being offered to 5,000 families in one of the poorer neighbourhoods of Kabul, with local community leaders designating the families in consultation with the ICRC.

 ICRC aids Kunduz hospital  


Following the two-week siege of Kunduz by the United Front, three ICRC delegates entered the town on 27 November to assess the need for humanitarian aid.

First-aid supplies and kits for treating the war-wounded were delivered to the Kunduz hospital, which according to ICRC medical experts had been stretched to its limits, and five patients in need of treatment unavailable there were taken to another hospital in nearby Taloqan. Discussions are currently under way on upgrading the Kunduz hospital and providing extra medical personnel.

Meanwhile, the delegates are assessing the population's needs in terms of food and basic shelter material. Once they have registered those eligible for assistance, the food and other relief aid already on standby in Mazar-i-Sharif will be delivered.

The Taloqan office where the three delegates are based was recently opened in order to be better able to assess the situation in the area.

 ICRC fulfils sombre duty in Mazar-i-Sharif  

Following the latest events in the Qala-i-Jangi fortress, where hundreds of Taliban fighters were being held by the United Front, teams from the ICRC and the Afghan Red Crescent have been working nonstop to collect mortal remains.

The bodies are being removed from the detention centre by the authorities before they are turned over to the Red Cross / Red Crescent. After being numbered and photographed for later identification, the remains are then buried. This sombre duty is one that the ICRC can be called upon to perform in conflict areas. The purpose is as much to provide for dignified storage or burial of the bodies as to help preserve minimum standards of public hygiene.

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