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Afghanistan: ICRC activities, January to September 2006

30-09-2006 Operational Update

Afghanistan remains one of the ICRC's biggest operations. Activities include visiting people deprived of their freedom; health, medical and rehabilitation services; assistance projects and the promotion of international humanitarian law. Overview of activities from January to September 2006.



 Detention visits  

In line with its mandate, the ICRC visits detainees held, as a result of the conflict, by the Afghan authorities and international forces (US and NATO); it regularly assesses their conditions of detention and treatment, and the respect of fundamental judicial guarantees and procedural safeguards. The ICRC facilitates contacts with their families through the exchange of Red Cross messages (RCMs).

Between January and September 2006, the ICRC:

  • carried out 154 visits to 69 places of detention, holding a total of 8,567 detainees;

  • followed up 2,028 individuals arrested in relation with the conflict, of whom 1,122 were visited for the first time;

  • provided assistance for 273 detainees to return home.

  • held two training workshops for health personnel working in prisons and detention centres under the Ministry of Justice;

  • rehabilitated three prison clinics, provided medical equipment to four clinics and provided guidance for the medical staff;

  • distributed summer assistance (hygiene articles, cleaning material, clothes and leisure items) to around 8,000 detainees;

  • distributed sugar, tea and dates to detainees for Ramadan.

 Restoring family links  

Working closely with the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), the ICRC continued to exchange Red Cross messages and helped families trace lost relatives.

Between January and September 2006, the ICRC and the ARCS :

  • collected and distributed more than 15,000 Red Cross messages;

  • traced 78 people registered as missing by family members;

  • received 152 new tracing requests;

  • trained 39 new field workers.


 Health care  

The ICRC helps the authorities provide effective surgical and parallel support services – such as blood banks and laboratories – to hospitals in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Jowzjan. It remains ready to respond to emergency incidents across the country.

Between January and September 2006, health facilities assisted by the ICRC:

  • cared for almost 26,000 in-patients and nearly 91,000 out-patients;

  • performed more than 13,500 operations;

  • distributed emergency supplies to Herat, Farah and Kabul hospitals.

 Rehabilitation for the disabled  

Since 1988, the ICRC has been providing orthopaedic and rehabilitation services for disabled people in Afghanistan, including those injured in mine accidents. Patients are also given help to start a normal life once their physical rehabilitation is complete. During the past two decades, around 74,000 patients, including more than 31,500 amputees, have been assisted.

The ICRC runs six orthopaedic centres in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Gulbaha r, Faizabad and Jalalabad. In each location, home care services are provided for spinal cord injury patients, offering paraplegics and their families medical, financial and social support.

Between January and September 2006, the six centres:

  • registered 4,600 new patients;

  • produced more than 11,000 limbs and appliances;

  • granted micro-credit loans to 524 patients to allow them to start their own businesses, and provided job training to around 237 people;

  • assisted 3,267 patients with spinal cord injuries.

In Kabul, home visits were made to some 21,000 patients.

 Mine Action  

The ICRC aims to prevent new injuries and fatalities caused by mines and other explosive remnants of war by gathering data on their location and informing de-mining agencies. Together with the ARCS, the ICRC also promotes safe behaviour through education sessions for communities at risk.

Between January and September 2006, mine action teams:

  • held about 10,000 mine risk education sessions in over 2,400 places, for more than 115,000 adults and 163,000 children;

  • interviewed 560 new victims of mines and unexploded ordnance.

 Water and habitat  

One of the ICRC's core tasks is to maintain access to drinking water for communities affected by conflict – the destruction of infrastructure and distribution systems can have disastrous health consequences. In Afghanistan, the ICRC's work includes re-establishing urban and rural water networks and carrying out sanitation projects as well as rehabilitation work in hospitals and emergency repairs in prisons. The programme i ncludes hygiene promotion and environmental health training.

Between January and September 2006, the water and habitat team:

  • drilled 76 boreholes and fitted hand pumps in Kabul;

  • completed a water quality laboratory and trained the staff, handed over five water projects benefiting 36,000 people and continued work on two sanitation projects (latrines, drainage and waste disposal) for 17,000 people and one water supply rehabilitation project in Fazelbig for 9,000 people;

  • in Bamyan province, completed five water projects;

  • in Herat, completed a local project benefiting 75,000 people and started a project integrating water supply, drainage and hygiene promotion for 30,000 beneficiaries in Nowabad;

  • in Kandahar, completed a water system for 5,000 people;

  • in Mazar-e-Sharif, continued work on two water supply projects for 22,000 beneficiaries;

  • in Jalalabad, provided financial support for the maintenance team in two hospitals and completed major renovation works in the surgical wards of the main hospital;

  • visited 6,800 households to provide training in hygiene;

  • conducted around 900 public hygiene promotion sessions (at mosques, schools and at community gatherings);

  • improved the water and sanitation facilities in 20 places of detention, for 3,000 detainees.


Promotion of international humanitarian law  

The ICRC seeks to prevent or limit suffering in conflict situations by promoting respect for international humanitarian law (IHL). In Afghanistan it supports efforts by the national army to train soldiers in IHL and works to spread information about the law to var ious sectors of society.

Between January and September 2006, the ICRC conducted:

  • a three-day conference on Islam and IHL with Islamic scholars from 32 Afghan provinces;

  • 164 sessions, four round tables and four workshops were conducted for 4,800 representatives of the authorities, police and army, students and other members of civil society;

  • more than a dozen meetings and specialized presentations for Afghan army officers and international liaison personnel.

Cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent  

The ICRC assists the ARCS technically and financially to strengthen its capacity to carry out programmes and provide services to the community.

Between January and September 2006, the ICRC:

  • financed vocational training for more than 1,780 people;

  • completed 29 food-for-work projects that benefited around 4,400 families;

  • held six information sessions for 80 ARCS staff;

  • organized 5,500 sessions for almost 80,000 people attending ARCS clinics, to make them aware of IHL and the ICRC’s work in the country.

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