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Afghanistan: update of activities (October – December 2004)

31-12-2004 Operational Update

 The following is an overview of activities in Afghanistan between October and December 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 September and November 2004, ICRC protection teams:

  • visited 3,378 detainees in 33 detention places, 429 of whom were registered for the first time,

  • provided assistance to around 104 released detainees to go home,

  • collected and distributed nearly 5,000 RCMs with the close collaboration of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), out of which around 1,500 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 October and December 2004, health facilities assisted by the ICRC:

  • provided services to almost 14,000 in-patients and nearly 80,000 outpatients,

  • performed over 8,000 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 October and December 2004, the Water and Habitat team:

  • drilled 14 boreholes and fitted hand pumps in Kabul.

  • completed two water supply projects in Kabul for 33,500 beneficiaries, the rehabilitation of Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital in Kabul and six boreholes in Jelalabad and Kandahar, three small rural water supply projects in Bamyan for 3,600 beneficiaries, five water supply projects in Mazar for 20,000 beneficiaries, one water supply p roject in Herat for 13,300 beneficiaries, one water supply project in Jelalabad for 25,000 beneficiaries and started a new one for 14,000 beneficiaries.

  • carried out maintenance in five hospitals.

  • undertook emergency interventions to improve water and sanitation in five places of detention for more than 2,000 prisoners.

  • construction works for three Ortho centres and two Marastoon.

The hygiene promotion teams completed their activities for 2004:

  • giving presentations to more than 8,000 people in four provincial sub-delegations, and visiting around 390 households,

  • conducting around 120 hygiene promotion sessions in schools, madrasa and community forums.

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 October and December 2004, dissemination teams conducted:

  • two workshops and two seminars for around 120 officers of the Afghan National Army, 

  • Twenty-eight dissemination sessions for almost 600 armed forces staff, students, youths, authorities and community volunteers and for the staff within the Movement.

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 almost

64, 000 patients (including nearly 30,000 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 October and November 2004, the orthopedic centers:

  • registered over 2,000 new patients and made more than 5,000 prostheses and orthoses,

  • gave over 53,000 physiotherapy treatments,

  • granted micro credit loans to 280 patients to start their own business ventures.

  • made more than 1,000 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 October and December 2004, mine risk education teams:

  • held 1,800 Mine Risk Education sessions in over 1,000 locations, for almost 27,000 adults and 39,000 children,

  • interviewed around 130 new mine /UXO victims, of whom 15 were combatants

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 October and December 2004, the Cooperation department:

  • supported 1,200 trainees and their 570 trainers in the Vocational Training Program (VTP),

  • completed 50 Food for Work (FFW) projects, benefiting approximately 23,000 families,

  • supported eight training seminars for 40 FFW/VTP, tracing, and dissemination ARCS staff

 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.  

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