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Afghanistan: ICRC continues visits to Shibergan prison

21-03-2002 News Release 02/12

Since November 2001 the ICRC has been conducting regular visits to Shibergan prison, near Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, which holds the largest number of detainees captured after the fall of Taliban-controlled areas last autumn. As in the many other countries where the ICRC carries out detention-related activities, the purely humanitarian purpose of these visits is to register the detainees, assess their material and psychological conditions, monitor their health and provide assistance if need be.

Since starting its visits, the ICRC has provided the detainees with blankets, clothes, shoes, bowls and water containers and regularly supplied them with soap. It also took immediate steps to ensure a sufficient supply of water since the prison did not have enough to meet needs. Large reservoirs have now been installed and 20,000 litres of water are delivered daily. Cleaning and waste-disposal equipment has also been provided.

Meanwhile, ICRC delegates have been regularly monitoring the health of detainees and providing the prison clinic with medicine and other supplies. Acute cases are transferred to the ICRC-supported referral hospital in Shibergan.

After its visits, which are conducted at regular intervals, the ICRC makes constructive and confidential recommendations to the detaining authorities. All detainees are offered the possibility of exchanging news with their families by means of Red Cross messages, more than 1,500 of which have so far been collected and delivered.