Deteriorating security prompts Red Cross to "drastically reduce" Afghanistan operations
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will "drastically reduce" its presence in Afghanistan after suffering a series of deadly terror attacks which left seven of its staff dead. The ICRC's announcement comes as security in Afghanistan deteriorates over the resurgence of the Taliban and rise of ISIS' Afghan affiliate ISIS-K. Several other humanitarian organizations have exited Afghanistan due to deteriorating security.
7 Red Cross employees killed in Afghanistan
Six Red Cross employees were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the northern Jowzjan province in February. Two others were kidnapped but later released. In September, a patient in Mazar-e Sharif shot dead a Spanish Red Cross physiotherapist. The ICRC has been in Afghanistan for three decades and has nearly 1,800 personnel who offer medical assistance, help the disabled and more.
Nature of Red Cross' downsizing
The ICRC's Afghan head said the "painful" decision will primarily affect the country's northern regions, where people will no longer get access to the aid they need. Offices in Kunduz, Faryab, and Balkh provinces would either be closed or downsized. The ICRC said it won't leave Afghanistan altogether but would limit the risks posed to its staff. Operations in other areas will continue.
Red Cross: "We have no choice"
The US estimates that the Afghan government controls less than 60% of the country. The rest is either controlled or contested by the Taliban or other militant outfits. In certain areas, especially in Afghanistan's north, the ICRC is the sole international group offering humanitarian aid. "We understand the consequences to stop our activities in the north but we have no choice," the ICRC said.