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Red Cross in trouble over aid to Taliban
London, May 26 (IANS):
Published on 26 May. 2010 11:52 PM IST
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The Red Cross has come under attack in Afghanistan after media revelations that it has taught basic first aid and even given medical equipment to the Taliban to treat its battle wounded.
Over 70 Taliban fighters underwent the first aid training last month in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, the Guardian reported, adding that Afghan officials are furious.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) admitted it had started the classes because unending fierce battles and roadblocks stopped people from reaching hospitals.
The Red Cross has also trained over 100 Afghan soldiers and policemen as well as taxi drivers who run an unofficial ambulance service in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
But the Red Cross training the Taliban has come in for sharp criticism in Afghanistan.
A leading figure in Kandahar’s local government said the Taliban did “not deserve to be treated like humans”.
“They are like animals, and they treat the people they capture worse than animals. They kidnapped and killed an American lady and then wouldn’t even return her body. These people don’t deserve this help,” he said.The Afghan ministries of defence and the interior, which are the main targets of the Taliban, called it a highly controversial issue.
ICRC runs hospitals in Afghanistan and meets prisoners on both sides of the war.The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which has been fighting the Taliban, said it had “tremendous respect for the hu
“We recognise the need for this work to be carried out impartially,” a spokesman said. “ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces also provide treatment to any case caught up in this conflict, including our opponents.”
A driver who carries wounded people from Sangin district in Helmand to Mirwais hospital in Kandahar city told the ICRC that the journey that used to take two hours has goneup to six-seven hours due to roadblocks.
The ICRC said its volunteers in Kandahar and staff at Mirwais hospital had seen a “substantial increase” in the number of patients injured by improvised explosive devices and other weapons.
The government has allowed fighters to reach the hospital, get treated and leave.
But in Helmand province last month, the tacit approval seemed to break down when Afghan forces raided a hospital in Lashkar Gah run by an Italian NGO.
Nine staff members were arrested and accused of plotting to murder the provincial governor after weapons and suicide bomb vests were found in the compound.

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