01-02-2018 |

Afghanistan 2017 a very difficult year - different footprint in 2018

2017 was an extremely difficult year for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan. After 30 years of continuous presence in the country, a series of consecutive attacks on its staff in less than 9 months forced the ICRC to suspend and, at a later stage, to reduce part of its activities, particularly in the North of the country.
Despite the challenges, and the need to temporarily put on hold some of its activities in order to find ways to limit the exposure of its teams to security risks, in 2017 the ICRC continued assisting people affected by conflict.

Over 139,000 patients received treatment in one of the ICRC’s 7 Rehabilitation centers across the country, more than 62,000 people were hospitalized in one of the ICRC supported health facilities, about 26,000 detainees were visited in order to ensure they are treated humanely and with dignity, and among them, more than 5,000 were able to keep in touch with their families through the ICRC phone calls and family visits program. Furthermore, 419 war wounded received first aid and were transported to a health facility for treatment, 57,000 displaced persons due to the conflict received essential basic assistance, and over 120,000 people benefited from the repair of water hand pumps (Click here for the Facts & Figures 2017).
In 2018, the ICRC remains committed to the Afghan population, providing the same range of services it has been providing for the past 30 years in Afghanistan, but with a different footprint.
The Head of Delegation for the ICRC in Afghanistan, Monica Zanarelli, looks back into 2017 and talks about the way forward for the ICRC and its operations in Afghanistan for 2018.

Interview

ICRC Kabul Delegation, Monica Zanarelli, Head of Delegation in Afghanistan gives an overview of 2017 for the ICRC activities in Afghanistan and the way forward in 2018.

How was 2017 for the ICRC in Afghanistan?
2017 marks 30 years of a permanent presence of the International Red Cross in Afghanistan, consecutive presence. 2017 has been also a very very difficult year for the ICRC in Afghanistan.
We were very joyful in January when one of our colleagues that was kept hostage in Kunduz was released and then, only few days later, beginning of February, one team of eight people travelling to Jawzjan for a livestock distribution was attacked, ambushed. Six were killed, two were taken hostage. It took us really lots of efforts, day and night, for seven months, to get them back, to get them freed. Finally, when they were free again, only six days later, a colleague, a physiotherapist in the rehabilitation center of Mazar, was shot and killed by a patient, and overall, we can only say that 2017 has been a fairly dramatic year for the ICRC.

Why did the ICRC suspend its operations in Afghanistan?
After the attack in Jawzjan we had to suspend our activities in order to re-analyze the security situation for the whole country, and trying to ensure the maximum protection for our teams. But this suspension didn’t last that long.
We fairly quickly resumed core activities like the rehabilitation centers or the family visits program for detainees, which cover a large number of beneficiaries across the country. Later on we were able to resume visits to places of detention but also the support to health centers like the clinics run by the Afghan Red Crescent Society or the hospital, the Regional Hospital in Mirwais, in Kandahar. We were certainly able to resume larger activities but by also limiting our exposure especially in rural areas and limiting ourselves in urban centers.

Why did the ICRC reduce its operations in Afghanistan?
We lost seven people, we had three abducted, and we had to take more drastic decisions at this point in order to ensure the security of our teams across the country. That led to the decision to reduce very drastically our presence in the North.
We closed down the offices of Kunduz, of Maimana, and we reduced also, in a very important way, the office in Mazar, which was a key centre for the whole North. We had also to reduce part of our activities across the country, those that were exposing our teams the most to security concerns. Despite closing the offices of Faryab, Maimana, and Kunduz, we still maintained definitely smaller presence in Mazar, where we are still committed to provide few services that only the ICRC is providing in this country and notably the rehabilitation activities in the Orthopedic centers as well as the family visit program and the phone calls for people detained.

What can be expected from the ICRC in Afghanistan in 2018?
In 2018 ICRC will remain committed to the people in Afghanistan as much as it has been the case for the past 30 years. We will continue providing the same range of services that we have provided so far. Maybe with a slightly different footprint. We will focus on victims of the conflict, as part of our mandate, on vulnerable populations, on women that are heads of households, on people detained and their families, on disabled.
We will continue focusing also in our dialogue with arm carriers whether part of the Afghan National Security Forces and the armed opposition in order to discuss the principles of International Humanitarian Law and the respect for civilians and the medical mission, whether is medical providers or clinics, or transport for wounded.
We will clearly remain committed to wounded and sick, we will clearly remain committed to wounded and sick also by continuing supporting the regional hospital in Kandahar, but also the ARCS clinics. We will remain committed to the support to the Afghan Red Crescent Society, which is our main, our primary counterpart in this country, and that will reach out also to vulnerable populations through our support.

What are the main changes for the ICRC in Afghanistan in 2018?
The main changes for the ICRC in 2018 are clearly in the North, where our presence will be much reduced. And where we are also looking at feasible options to transfer the responsibility of our rehabilitation activities in Mazar. We need to look at a partner that can guarantee the same level of quality of treatment of the patients that have been under our care for so long.
Across the country, the presence will remain the same. Will not really change. What will change is our capacity to reach out rural areas, because the exposure to security risks.
However, all our services for the beneficiaries in Afghanistan have been also devised around a concept of pulling them towards our structures, our offices, and thus allowing us to have a direct contact with everyone. Our cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent Society will continue. Will be strong also in order to reach out vulnerable populations in rural areas. Therefore our commitment and the relevance of our services will not change dramatically.
For more information, please contact AndreaCattaPreta (English, Spanish and Portuguese),ICRC Kabul,tel: +93 729 140 510 orRoyaMusawi, (Dari andPashto),ICRC Kabul,tel: +93 794 618 908

SHOT LIST VIDEO #1

00:01 - 2017 marks 30 years of a permanent presence of the International Red Cross in Afghanistan, consecutive presence.

00:11 - 2017 has been also a very very difficult year for the ICRC in Afghanistan.

00:17 - We were very joyful in January when one of our colleagues that was kept hostage in Kunduz was released and then, only few days later, beginning of February, one team of eight people travelling to Jawzjan for a livestock distribution was attacked, ambushed. Six were killed, two were taken hostage. It took us really lots of efforts, day and night, for seven months, to get them back, to get them freed.

00:53 - Finally, when they were free again, only six days later, a colleague, a physiotherapist in the rehabilitation center of Mazar, was shot and killed by a patient, and overall, we can only say that 2017 has been a fairly dramatic year for the ICRC.

01:15 - After the attack in Jawzjan we had to suspend our activities in order to re-analyze the security situation for the whole country, and trying to ensure the maximum protection for our teams. But this suspension didn’t last that long. We fairly quickly resumed core activities like the rehabilitation centers or the family visits program for detainees, which cover a large number of beneficiaries across the country.

01:52 - Later on we were able to resume visits to places of detention but also the support to health centers like the clinics run by the Afghan Red Crescent Society or the hospital, the Regional Hospital in Mirwais, in Kandahar

02:13 - We were certainly able to resume larger activities but by also limiting our exposure especially in rural areas and limiting ourselves in urban centers.

02:28 - We lost seven people, we had three abducted, and we had to take more drastic decisions at this point in order to ensure the security of our teams across the country. That led to the decision to reduce very drastically our presence in the North.

02:45 - We closed down the offices of Kunduz, of Maimana, and we reduced also, in a very important way, the office in Mazar, which was a key centre for the whole North.

03:04 - We had also to reduce part of our activities across the country, those that were exposing our teams the most to security concerns.

03:14 - Despite closing the offices of Faryab, Maimana, and Kunduz, we still maintained definitely smaller presence in Mazar, where we are still committed to provide few services that only the ICRC is providing in this country and notably the rehabilitation activities in the Orthopedic centers as well as the family visit program and the phone calls for people detained.

03:49 - In 2018 ICRC will remain committed to the people in Afghanistan as much as it has been the case for the past 30 years.

04:00 - We will continue providing the same range of services that we have provided so far.

04:08 - Maybe with a slightly different footprint. We will focus on victims of the conflict, as part of our mandate, on vulnerable populations, on women that are heads of households, on people detained and their families, on disabled.

04:31 - We will continue focusing also in our dialogue with arm carriers whether part of the Afghan National Security Forces and the armed opposition in order to discuss the principles of International Humanitarian Law and the respect for civilians and the medical mission, whether is medical providers or clinics, or transport for wounded.

05:04 - We will clearly remain committed to wounded and sick, we will clearly remain committed to wounded and sick also by continuing supporting the regional hospital in Kandahar, but also the ARCS clinics.

05:18 - We will remain committed to the support to the Afghan Red Crescent Society, which is our main, our primary counterpart in this country, and that will reach out also to vulnerable populations through our support.

05:40 - The main changes for the ICRC in 2018 are clearly in the North, where our presence will be much reduced. And where we are also looking at feasible options to transfer the responsibility of our rehabilitation activities in Mazar.

06:04 - We need to look at a partner that can guarantee the same level of quality of treatment of the patients that have been under our care for so long.

06:16 - Across the country, the presence will remain the same. Will not really change. What will change is our capacity to reach out rural areas, because the exposure to security risks.

06:35 - However, all our services for the beneficiaries in Afghanistan have been also devised around a concept of pulling them towards our structures, our offices, and thus allowing us to have a direct contact with everyone.

06:56 - Our cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent Society will continue. Will be strong also in order to reach out vulnerable populations in rural areas.

07:12 - Therefore our commitment and the relevance of our services will not change dramatically.

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
Length: 07:21
Format: HD H264 mov
Producers: ICRC Kabul Com team
Camera: Abasy Ramish
Date: 28.01.2018
Copyright: ICRC  

SHOT LIST VIDEO #2

00:01 - A man carrying a patient in the yard of Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar.

00:13 - Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar sign.

00:24 - Patients waiting to be registered at Mirwais Regional Hospital.

00:43 - A doctor registers patients in Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar.

01:12 - Patients in Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar

01:16 - Doctors checking on patient.

01:31 - War wonded children in Zabul province being taken to a health facility.

01:41 - Female patients in Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar.

02:01 - The ICRC staff offloading medical supplies at a health facility.

02:27 - People go through the main gate of the ICRC Orthopaedic Center in Kabul.

02:35 - Physiotherapist helping an amputee to practice at the Orthopaedic Center in Kabul.

02:58 - A patient putting his shoes on at the Orthopedic center in Kabul.

03:14 - Doctor helping a patient to fit his prosthesys at the ICRC Orthopedic Center in Kabul.

03:30 - A mother on a video-call talking to his son, in Austria, after five years without contact. The service is provided by the ICRC Restoring Family Links Program.

Location:  Afghanistan
Length: 03:53
Format: HD H264 mov
Producers: Various
Camera: Various
Date: 28.01.2018
Copyright: ICRC  

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