The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed deep concern about the intensification and spreading of armed conflict in Afghanistan, and called on aid agencies to “urgently” meet the growing humanitarian needs of conflict-affected Afghans.
''We are extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan,” the president of the ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger, was quoted in a press release on 8 April as saying.
“There is growing insecurity and a clear intensification of the armed conflict, which is no longer limited to the south but has spread to the east and west,'' the press release said.
Kellenberger is on a seven-day visit to Afghanistan to assess the humanitarian situation and the impact of the armed conflict on civilians.
According to the ICRC, intensified conflict has displaced a “growing” number of Afghan civilians, but the humanitarian capacity to reach and assist them is diminishing. The growing humanitarian needs of conflict-affect civilians and other vulnerable people “must be met as a matter of urgency”, the ICRC said.
Fourth biggest operation
The ICRC runs its fourth biggest operation in the world in Afghanistan with a budget of US$60 million for 2008.
Photo: Abdullah Shaheen/IRIN
|Many civilians have been forced to flee their homes and livelihoods because of conflict, the ICRC says|
Over 8,000 people, at least 1,500 of them civilians, died in conflict-related violence in different parts of Afghanistan in 2007, the UN Secretary-General said in March.
In addition to humanitarian assessments the ICRC president will discuss the protection of non-combatants with the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and a commander of US forces in Afghanistan, the ICRC said.
Kellenberger will also visit 600 detainees at a “Temporary Internment Facility” at Bagram airbase - the headquarters of US forces in Afghanistan - to which no human rights or humanitarian organisation other than the ICRC has access.
''The detention of persons captured or arrested in connection with the fight against terrorism must take place within an appropriate legal framework. We see the need for more robust procedural safeguards in Bagram where, to this day, most detainees live in uncertainty about their fate,'' the ICRC president said.
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