Development News from Afghanistan

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ICRC warns of growing civilian toll in Afghanistan

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Tue Jun 12, 6:41 AM ET

GENEVA (AFP) – The international Red Cross warned Tuesday that Afghan civilians were paying the price as increasingly bitter fighting between international forces and Taliban insurgents spreads across Afghanistan.

“The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is worse now than it was a year ago,” said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“Civilians suffer horribly from mounting threats to their security, such as increasing numbers of roadside bombs and suicide attacks, and regular aerial bombing raids,” he added.

The ICRC said in a statement that the conflict pitting Afghan government and US and NATO forces against the armed opposition had “significantly intensified” in the south and east of the country since 2006.

It has also spread to the north and west, resulting in “a growing number of civilian casualties,” it added.

The increasingly polarised situation is hampering humanitarian and development work outside major cities, leaving many civilians “in dire need of emergency assistance,” the ICRC said.

“They also lack access to basic services. It is incredibly difficult for ordinary Afghans to lead a normal life,” Kraehenbuehl added.

Nearly 13 billion dollars of international aid has been spent in Afghanistan in a US-led reconstruction and security effort following the 2001 toppling of the Taliban regime.

But the development effort has been sharply criticised for failing to produce much progress in war-shattered Afghanistan.

Scores of civilians have been killed this year in attacks by Taliban forces or in military operations against the militants.

Late Monday, rockets fired from Pakistan at a US and Afghan military base in southeastern Afghanistan landed on civilian houses and wounded a family of five, the local governor said.

Civilians are caught up in suicide and roadside bombings by insurgents, but the rising number of civilian casualties from the US and NATO military effort has also caused alarm.

Southern Afghanistan is the birthplace of the extremist Taliban movement and the area has seen most of the attacks from the movement’s insurgency.

More than 50,000 foreign soldiers, most of them Americans, are in Afghanistan to help Afghan security forces.

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Written by afghandevnews

June 13, 2007 at 4:03 am

Posted in Security

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