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Afghanistan: ICRC deplores increasing number of civilian victims

27-10-2006 News Release 06/116

Geneva (ICRC) – Hostilities have intensified in southern Afghanistan over the past two weeks between the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) on the one hand and the armed opposition on the other.

As a result, there is serious concern regarding the situation of civilians caught in the middle of the fighting. Aerial bombardment and ground offensives in populated rural areas, together with recent suicide attacks and roadside bombs in urban areas, have significantly increased the number of innocent civilians killed, injured or displaced.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) once more calls on all parties to the conflict to respect the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL).

IHL requires the parties to a conflict to maintain a distinction between fighters and civilians at all times. It also requires the parties to exercise constant care in the conduct of military operations and prohibits attacks directed against civilians or civilian objects.

All parties to the conflict must at all times take all feasible precautions to spare civilians and their property from the effects of attack.

All the wounded must receive adequate medical treatment and captured fighters must be treated in accordance with international humanitarian law.

In view of the growing influx of casualties in the south of Afghanistan, the ICRC has sustained its support of Kandahar's Mirwais hospital. In addition, the organization has replenished its own emergency stocks of essential household items so that it can help civilians affected by the hostilities. It is providing this assistance in conjunction with the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

ICRC delegates will continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to assist and protect civilians, visit and register detainees, and provide health care and vital supplies in response to any urgent needs.

For additional information, please contact:
  Carla Haddad, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26
  Marc Achermann, ICRC Kabul, tel: +93 70 279 078 or +93 70275025