Afghanistan: Humanitarian Concerns are Growing, yet International Attention is Dwindling

Listening to village elders in northern Afghanistan. © Andrew Quilty for the ICRC

Listening to village elders in northern Afghanistan. © Andrew Quilty for the ICRC

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, has said he is increasingly concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

At the end of a five-day visit to the country, Mr Maurer said that civilians were bearing the brunt of the violence and that 'every indicator shows that the humanitarian situation is in a downward spiral.' He also drew attention to the recent increase in attacks on health facilities.

"There are more displaced people, more war-wounded and more disabled people. Humanitarian concerns are growing, yet international attention is dwindling. It seems that the more the Afghan people suffer, the less attention there is on them." - ICRC President, Peter Maurer

"In the last year, attacks against health facilities and personnel have gone up by 50%. Every bombed out hospital and every doctor or nurse who is forced to flee, means thousands of people cannot get immediate medical treatment when necessary. International humanitarian law clearly binds all parties to the conflict to respect and protect medical missions. Afghans are the second largest group arriving in Europe today. This shows that the chronic violence and insecurity, and the permanent unpredictability of the war, has pushed people beyond their limits," said Mr Maurer.

During his visit, Mr Maurer held talks with the President of Afghanistan, the Chief Executive, regional authorities as well as international organizations. He also met representatives of armed opposition groups, as well as civilians who have been displaced and detainees.

"We have increased our budget for Afghanistan for 2016, recognizing the scale of the problem. We will explore the possibilities of further expanding our activities, including the evacuation of wounded people," said Mr Maurer.

The ICRC has had a permanent presence in Afghanistan since 1987. In terms of staff numbers, it is the organization's largest operation in the world.