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Afghanistan: ICRC activities in 2007

11-01-2008 Operational Update

During 2007, violence in Afghanistan escalated and the context remained one of the ICRC's largest operations worldwide with more than 1,200 locally recruited and expatriate staff working to help people affected by war. The ICRC's delegation is located in Kabul with other offices situated in Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Gulbahar, Faizabad and Bamiyan.



In accordance with its international mandate, the ICRC regularly visits people detained in connection with the conflict by the Afghan authorities and non-Afghan forces such as the IS military and that of other NATO countries (see interview with the ICRC's Director of Operations.) It assesses the conditions of detention, the treatment of detainees and respect for fundamental judicial guarantees. The ICRC also facilitates contact with their families through the exchange of Red Cross messages (brief personal messages to relatives made otherwise unreachable by conflict.)

During 2007 as a whole, ICRC staff

  • visited 78 places of detention holding a total of 10,500 detainees

  • followed up the cases of 3,131 individuals arrested in connection with the conflict or the security situation, 1,723 of whom were visited for the first time and registered

  • gave 342 released detainees the funds to travel home

Restoring family links 

Working closely with the Afghan Red Crescent Society, the ICRC continued to collect and deliver Red Cross messages and helped families trace relatives with whom they had lost contact.

In 2007, the ICRC and Red Crescent staff collected and/or delivered more than 29,000 Red Cross messages, the vast majority of which were exchanged between detainees and their families.

Rehabilitation for the disabled 

Since 1988, the ICRC has been involved in limb-fitting, orthotic and rehabilitation work for disabled people, both landmine victims and those with motor impairment from other causes. The ICRC has also striven to help them, once physical rehabilitation is completed to re-integrate into society. Over 20 years, more than 81,000 patients have been assisted.

The ICRC currently runs six centres for this purpose: in Kabul, Maza-i-Sharif, Herat, Gulbahar, Faizabad and Jalalabad. Each is supplemented by a home-care service to provide paraplegics and their families with medical, economic and social support.

In 2007, these centres:

  • registered 5,579 new patients and produced over 14,000 prostheses and orthoses

  • gave some 153,000 physiotherapy sessions

  • granted microcredit loans to 596 patients to start their own business ventures, while 263 were trained in various jobs

  • assisted over 1,230 patients with spinal cord injuries (in Kabul alone, more than 2,970 home-care visits were made

Mine action 

The ICRC supports the Afghan Red Cross in its work to prevent injury and death caused by mines and other explosive remnants of war by gathering information on the cause of accidents and the location of these dangerous objects. This information is shared with demining agencies. The Red Crescent promotes safe behaviour through mine-risk education in the communities at risk.

In 2007, ICRC and Red Crescent staff held more than 18,600 mine risk-education sessions in 5,346 places for almost 140,000 adults and more than 328,000 children.


The ICRC supports three hospitals (Jalalabad public health hospital 1), Mirwais hospital in Kandahar and Sheberghan hospital in Jawzjan). The objective of ICRC support is to maintain the ability to provide high-quality, basic surgical services to victims of the conflict and other emergency cases. In Kandahar, the ICRC has begun a special project with the Ministry of Public Health to ensure delivery of essential hospital services by the facility.

In 2007, hospitals regularly assisted by the ICRC:

  • provided care for over 34,300 inpatients and more than 176,000 outpatients

  • performed more than 19,000 operations

The ICRC also provided medical supplies according to need in Kabul and other parts of the country.

It also furnished supplies, financial support and supervision to eight Afghan Red Crescent clinics in the east and south of the country. During the year, these clinics gave almost 75,000 consultations and vaccinated more than 64,000 women and children.

The ICRC also provided emergency medical care for the war-wounded in remote areas where medical help is otherwise unavailable.

Water and habitat 

The ICRC's work includes re-establishing urban and rural water networks, sanitation projects and rehabilitation work in hospitals as well as hygiene promotion and environmental health training.

The organization in 2007:

  • worked on an extension of the water system in Kabul covering 10,000 beneficiaries

  • continued seven water-supply projects in Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar, plus 11 minor projects in Bamiyan for over 130, 000 beneficiaries

  • completed 11 water-supply projects and installed one latrine in Bamyan, 150 latrines and one water supply project in Kandahr; two water supply projects in Mazar-i-Sharif ; one water supply project in Herat, and one water-supply project in Kabul

  • continued to ensure basic water and sanitation conditions in 15 detention places in Kabul, Faizabad, Parwan, Takhar, Kudoz, Baghlan, Samanghan, Maza-i-Sharif, Seripul, Sheberghan,Maimana, Herat, Jalalabad, Wardak and Kandahar.

  • constructed a clinic for Jalalabad central prison (August) a water-supply system for Maimana central prison (July), latrines and a septic tank for Kundoz central prison, latrines and a septic tank for Cherikar central prison (September), a well for Seripul central prison (June) and bathrooms for Herat central prison (December).

  • made 2,215 presentations to promote hygiene to more than 46,000 people in public places (hammam, schools and mosques) and provided education and practical advice to 7,347 households

  • continued to maintain the general infrastructure of hospitals in Jalalabad, Sheberghan, Mazar-i-Sharif as well as Mirwais hospital in Kandahar.

Promoting international humanitarian law 

The ICRC's humanitarian mission includes protecting the lives and dignity of people affected by war and preventing suffering by promoting compliance with international humanitarian law.

In 2007, the ICRC organized:

  • a total of 200 presentations for more than 6,000 staff of provincial authorities, staff and volunteers of the Afghan Red Crescent, community elders, members of religious circles, journalists, university students and other members of civil society

  • two four-day and two-six day workshops on the law of armed conflict for 110 Afgh an National Army officers, and similar sessions for 893 Afghan army officers, international mentors and legal advisors who train the national army.

Emergency Aid 

The ICRC provides emergency assistance to people displaced and living without shelter due to the armed conflict and to those severely affected by natural disasters. Emergency aid is usually distributed in partnership with the Afghan Red Crescent.

In 2007, the Red Crescent distributed food kits (including rice, beans, ghee, salt, sugar and tea) and non-food kits (including tarpaulins, jerrycans, blankets, kitchen sets and soap) to over 6,340 displaced families (more than 45,000 individuals) affected mainly by the conflict in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces and 1,214 families (8,498 individuals) affected by floods.

Cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent 

The ICRC provides technical and financial assistance to the Afghan Red Crescent Society to build its capacity to deliver services to the community.

During 2007, the ICRC,

  • supported over1,500 trainee and their 750 teachers in the ICRC's vocational training programme

  • completed 241 food-for-work projects benefiting almost 93,000 families

  • supported 10 training sessions for 54 Red Crescent staff specializing in promoting international humanitarian law

  • supported more than 15,000 presentations by 39 volunteers to inform people about humanitarian law who had come to Red Crescent clinics for treatment or to mosques

  • supplied over 24,000 first-aid kits for more than 16,000 Afghan Red Crescent volunteers

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