1 minute readInternational

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.

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  1. During my military service, I give to the Red Cross annually. I continued to donate to this day. I will withdraw all support from this day forward due to the article. In your above response, basically defended and supported ICRC. I understand your position on this. Please understand my position. I will not aid the enemy in any way. I will not support any organization that provides aid. You try to justify your position by saying this provides you a doorway to teach them international humanitarian law. They use woman and child as shields. They denotate car bombs in busy markets. They are against female rights. They torture and kill their hostages. They have murder ICRC volunteers. I am shocked and truly disappointed in your organization.

  2. Brian Reed,

    How self-centered are you? You’re letting your petty emotions get in the way of supporting the world’s greatest organization. The ICRC have been in with our troops, helping them (as well as any person in need of assistance) and saving their lives.

    By withdrawing your support, you think you’re doing our troops a favor? That’s absolutely ridiculous. You’re hurting our side even more than the Taliban. If you don’t understand this distinction, I trust you to educate yourself on world matters, and less on your own life.

    I understand your position, it’s a position based off fear and propaganda. Watch less cable news, and read more please.

  3. I respectfully disagree with the ICRC position on training Taliban medics to treat combatants. I get providing humanitarian assistance to non-combatants and civilians, but providing first-aid training to those who would restore enemy casualties to combatant status is over the line.

  4. To Eric and Harold,

    If you were actually in the military you would know that our medics routinely — and are required to — treat the wounded enemy.

    The ICRC is sanctioned by the Geneva Convention to provide medical care to those in armed conflict zones… and yes, this includes the “enemy”. Although, since the ICRC retains the principles of impartiality and neutrality they see no enemy.

  5. I will support the American Red Cross but I refuse to support the ICRC. I was in Iraq and had dealing with them and personally have no use for them. When they treat detainees BETTER than soldiers (when the detainees are in prison for a reason) and believe detainees over soldiers, is truely wrong. The ICRC can go jump off a bridge for all I care.

  6. I actually am a retired military medic and if I came across a school training medics for enemy combatants we would at least take them into custody. We treated enemy casualties who were hors de combat but we did not treat lightly injured enemy casualties to return them to duty..

  7. Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting a remarkable man… a hero (not the arm chair type) Desmond Doss… he served as a US Army Combat MEDIC in WWII… unarmed he saved numerous lives while wounded… he received the Medal of Honor… he saved both US and Japanese soldiers… there is a similar story from Vietnam… then there are heros like Dr Tom Dooley… Church groups routinely go and attempt to go to many places where people support and shelter enemies of the US… so why the emotion over the International Red Cross training life saving tech… our committment to higher values is what sets us a part… careful we do not become like our enemies…

  8. No more money from me either……. Sorry but there are other causes more to my point of view…

  9. Impartial and following humanitarian law is the only way the ICRC can operate. Otherwise they would never be able to help anyone. They are not helping the enemy. They are helping people. Remember the United States Military are not angels either. (Abu Ghurayb, Guantanamo, Ft. Hood, etc.) There is good and evil on both sides of every conflict. The ICRC doing their job in the face of such conflict provides a lesson for both sides on compassion and humanity. There is no justification for taking a human life. All life is precious.

  10. Wow, amazing how the American Red Cross distances itself from the ICRC when the going gets tough.
    These are the movements fundemantal principles we are talking about, if you don’t stand up for those, what will you stand up for?

    To people like Baker or Reed:

    so ur saying, it is better not to have an organisation that treats both sides even if it means to say sorry private bergdahl held some cage somewhere right now, sorry everyone, sorry soldiers help captive by the taliban this very instant… but i don’t want a bunch of long bearded freaks to learn how to put a band aid on properly…
    because that is what we are talking about, basic first aid. Mouth to mouth, clean a wound, fix a tourniquet properly..basic stuff. Wait how many amongst them? 70! We have what, 150,000 boys over there? The Afghan army is what, 250,000 men strong? And you guys are really throwing a fit over 70 idiots learning what any one with an internet connection can learn online in 2 hours?
    Why do I say all that? Coz a very dear friend, serving our country during Black howk down, was rotting away in a Somali hell hole and the only ones with balls big enough to dare go into the lion’s cage and make sure he was not being tortured where the guys form the international red cross, not the American Red Cross (but I am sure Wendy, you guys from the Armcross were less quick to make a distcintion than, weren’t you?!).

  11. Make excuses all day long as to how and why your organization lends aid in the murder and torture or American and Allied citizens it will all fall on deaf ears. I nor my company will NEVER endorse your organization or donate any funds to assist in the TRAINING, TREATING or EDUCATING of TERRORISTS. The FBI should be investigating your organization as a Terrorist facilitator.

  12. In order to be “impartial” did the IRC teach the Nazis first aid or the Japanese or the North Koreans or the North Vietnamese or The Iraqis and Kuwaitis when Saddam invaded Kuwait? This “principle” of impartiality is disgusting. You( national red cross) will never receive even verbal support from me ever.

  13. As a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, I am appalled that the money I gave to the ICRC for disaster relief in Haiti, has gone to arm those so dead set on killing my brothers and sisters in arms. That is the last dollar any organization hiding behind a red cross, crescent, or star will ever see from me. To those who think they can defend this action by saying our combat medics are required to treat wounded enemies, you are right, but lets think what happens after they are treated. They become detained enemy combatants under US control, I would be completely fine with the ICRC if they were to add a follow on course to their enemy combatant medicine course that taught the Taliban how to zip tie themselves, sit with their ankles crossed and their arms behind their backs with a white flag in their mouths. I also completely agree that our state department should investigate and prosecute any fund raising activities in the United States by the ICRC as soliciting support for terrorist organizations.

  14. As far as the ICRC, If they are providing support, either through financial or any other type of support for those who would kill my fellow citizens, they will not have my support. But DONT judge the Red Cross for what the ICRC does. I have and will continue to support my local Red Cross

  15. For over 24 years now I have donated whole blood on a regular basis (as I am a universal donor type). Then as of 2001 every two weeks I have been a regular apheresis donor of triple count (due to my high platelet count). Well no more.
    After reading the articles and doing further research I have made the decision that I will no longer donate or support the American Red Cross. I have decided that I will withdraw all support going forward to the American Red Cross because of their support of the International Red Cross. I am proud to be an American citizen and wholeheartedly support the men and women that are serving in the military to defend the U.S.A. in the current war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
    My research has found local hospitals that are in need of my platelet donations. So, patients here in the U.S. will not suffer from my decision to no longer donate to the American Red Cross. I am greatly disappointed on your views and support of the ICRC and my decision to withdraw my support is a matter of principal that I will not be part of the American Red Cross decision to support the ICRC.

  16. When the wounded Taliban surrender to Allied forces, then the ICRC can do their thing. Until then I will hold back my usual donation to the American Red Cross (ARC), When the ARC convinces the ICRC to change their tactics with aid to the Taliban or any other enemy of the USA, then I’ll resume my usual contribution. Without the ARC contributions to the ICRC, it will run out of money very quickly.
    Some will say, big deal, what’s one donation going to do or prove. Well, judging from the previous comments, it’s a lot more then one. The proof hasn’t been felt yet.