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Afghanistan: ICRC activities from January to November 2007

18-12-2007 Operational Update

Afghanistan remains one of the ICRC's largest operations, with more than 1,200 locally recruited and expatriate staff working to help people affected by war. The organization's delegation is located in Kabul. Other ICRC offices are 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 or non-Afghan forces such as the US military and that of other NATO countries. It assessed 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).

Between January and November, ICRC staff:

  • visited 75 places of detention holding a total of 10,500 detainees

  • followed up the cases of 2,878 individuals arrested in connection with the conflict or the security situation, 1,571 of whom were visited for the first time and registered

  • gave 297 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.

Between January and November, ICRC and Red Crescent staff collected and/or delivered more than 26,0 00 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 helping them, when physical rehabilitation is completed, to once again become viable members of society. During that time, over 80,700 patients (including some 32,800 amputees) have been helped.

The ICRC currently runs six centres for this purpose: in Kabul, Mazar-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.

Between January and November, these centres:

  • registered over 482 new patients and produced over 13,000 prostheses and orthoses

  • gave some 141,700 physiotherapy sessions

  • granted microcredit loans to 559 patients to start their own businesses, while 235 were trained in various jobs

  • assisted over 1,220 patients with spinal cord injuries (In Kabul alone, more than 2,620 home-care visits were made.).

Mine action 

The ICRC supports the Afghan Red Crescent 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 objects. This information is shared with demining agencies. The Red Crescent promotes safe behaviour through mine-risk education in the communities at risk.

Between January and Novem ber 2007, ICRC / Red Crescent staff held some 17,000 mine-risk education sessions in 4,642 places, for more than 126,500 adults and more than 300,000 children.


The ICRC supports three hospitals (Jalalabad public health hospital 1, Mirwais hospital in Kandahar and Shiberghan 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.

Between January and November 2007, the hospitals regularly assisted by the ICRC:

  • provided care for over 32,000 inpatients and 161,300 outpatients;

  • performed more than 17,800 operations.

In addition, the ICRC provided medical supplies according to need in Kabul and other parts of the country.

The ICRC furnished supplies, financial support and supervision to eight Afghan Red Crescent clinics in the east and south of the country. In the period under review, these facilities gave almost 67,000 consultations and administered vaccinations to over 56,000 women and children.

The ICRC also provided emergency medical care for war-wounded people in remote areas, in cases where medical help was not otherwise available.

Water and habitat 

One of the ICRC's main activities is to maintain access to drinking water for populations affected by conflict. The disruption and destruction of water-purification plants and distri bution systems can have disastrous consequences for public health. In Afghanistan, the ICRC's work includes re-establishing urban and rural water-supply networks and carrying out sanitation projects in hospitals and work to repair and upgrade those facilities. Hygiene promotion and environmental health training are part of this programme.

Between January and November 2007, ICRC staff:

  • worked on an extension of the water-supply system in Kabul (10,000 beneficiaries)

  • continued seven water-supply projects in Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar, plus 11 minor projects in Bamiyan for over 90,000 beneficiaries

  • from May to November, completed 10 water-supply and one latrine project in Bamiyan

  • installed 150 latrines (May) and carried out a water-supply project (November) in Kandahar

  • carried out two water-supply projects in Mazar-i-Sharif (August and November)

  • carried out a water-supply project in Herat (November)

  • worked on drainage and sanitation systems to improve the environmental health situation in the poorest settlements on the fringes of Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad and Kandahar

  •  continued to ensure adequate water supply and sanitation conditions in 15 places of detention in Kabul, Faizabad, Parwan, Takhar, Kundoz, Baghlan, Samanghan, Mazar-i-Sharif, Seripul, Shiberghan, 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) and a well for drinking water at Seripul central prison (June)

  • made 2,126 presentations to promote hygiene for a total of 45,515 people in public places (hammam, school, mosque) and provided education and practical tips on hygiene for 6,77 6 households

  • continued to maintain the general infrastructure of hospitals in Jalalabad, Shiberghan and 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.

Between January and November 2007, the ICRC organized:

  • 184 presentations on the law for over 5,700 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 Afghan National Army officers, 23 similar sessions for 777 officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers, and briefings to Afghan army officers, international mentors and legal advisers who train the national army.

Emergency aid 

As part of its role as a rapid-response organization, the ICRC furnishes both food and non-relief for people affected by crises. These include both people living without shelter after being driven from their homes by fighting and people severely affected by natural disasters. Emergency aid is usually distributed in conjunction with the Afghan Red Crescent.

Between January and November 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 4,940 displaced families (in all more than 40,000 individuals) affected by conflict and floods in the provinces of Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul and Helmand in southern Afghanistan.

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 various services to the community.

Between January and November 2007, the ICRC:

  • supported over 1,500 trainees and their 754 teachers in the ICRC's vocational training programme

  • completed 222 food-for-work projects, benefiting more than 96,500 families

  • supported eight training sessions for 51 Red Crescent staff specializing in promoting international humanitarian law

  • supported over 13,800 presentations by 39 volunteers to inform people about humanitarian law who had come to Red Crescent clinics for treatment (138,500 people reached in all)

  • supplied over 8,100 first-aid kits for 5,360 Red Crescent volunteers.

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