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Afghanistan and the ICRC

Many of you have probably read an article like this BBC piece in the last 24 hours. Below is a brief statement that clarifies the news:

Many people do not realize, and often the media does not make the distinction, that the ICRC is an independent organization distinct from the American Red Cross. The Red Cross activities referenced in recent news reports are being carried out by the ICRC in Afghanistan, not the American Red Cross.

The armed conflict is taking a heavy toll on health services throughout the country. Mines, checkpoints and general insecurity are preventing the injured from being transported to hospitals. And where health care is available, it is often lacking. The ICRC is addressing this issue by training local surgeons in war surgery skills and giving basic first-aid training to people directly involved in the fighting.

Following its principles of impartiality and neutrality, the ICRC offers humanitarian and medical assistance to alleviate suffering without taking sides in the hostilities. It also educates armed forces how to follow international humanitarian law, for example by protecting those who do not take part in the fighting (civilians) and caring for those who can no longer take part (wounded and sick combatants and anyone who is captured).

We invite you to contact the ICRC to discuss this issue further at washington.was@icrc.org or 202-587-4600. Additionally, you may be interested in reading more about ICRC activities in Afghanistan.

For more information on the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions, please visit the British Red Cross blog.