Since the beginning of August, 4,042 weapon-wounded patients have been treated at 15 health facilities supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), an indication of the intensity of the recent violence, the organization said in a statement on Wednesday.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are at risk as fighting intensifies in and around Kunduz, Lashkar Gah, Kandahar, and other Afghan cities.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called on both warring sides to show restraint and protect civilians and vital infrastructure such as hospitals from attacks, especially in urban areas.
“We are seeing homes destroyed, medical staff and patients put at tremendous risk, and hospitals, electricity and water infrastructure damaged,” said Eloi Fillion, ICRC’s head of delegation in Afghanistan. “The use of explosive weaponry in cities is having severe and indiscriminate effects on the civilian population well beyond its target. Many families have no option but to flee in search of a safer place. This must stop.”
Street-to-street clashes in Kunduz, Lashkar Gah and other cities over the last few days have injured hundreds of civilians even as medical services are heavily strained due to damage to health facilities and a lack of staff, the ICRC said in a statement.
The ICRC says that electricity is out across several contested cities and water supply systems are barely operational in some places. “Many families are trying to leave but cannot find transport to escape or simply do not have the financial means,” ICRC said.
The ICRC and its partner the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) say they are operating at full capacity to evacuate the wounded and transport the remains of those killed as a result of the conflict. In July alone, the ICRC helped nearly 13,000 patients suffering from weapon-related injuries across the country, and this number appears likely to rise this month as fighting increases in highly populated areas.
“Health-care facilities, medical workers, and ambulances must be spared at all cost,” said Fillion. “We also call on all fighting parties to allow humanitarian organizations like the ICRC and ARCS to safely evacuate the injured and bring much-needed assistance to the civilian population.”