Entries in Red Cross (7)


Taliban Denies Responsibility for Attack on Red Cross

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Just days after an attack on the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Taliban denied responsibility for the suicide bombing on Friday.

The Red Cross, which is one of the largest and most effective non-government organizations in Afghanistan, had been considered "off-limits." Because the Red Cross treats Taliban and civilian injuries alike, the Taliban says that their fighters were under orders not to attack Red Cross workers, says the New York Times.

The Taliban made a public statement last year praising the work done by the Red Cross, have instructed their fighters to allow Red Cross vehicles free passage in Taliban territory and have even given escorts to Red Cross workers in Taliban-controlled areas.

According to the New York Times, a Taliban spokesperson said that his organization “wants to clarify to everyone that it was neither behind the May 29th attack on the I.C.R.C. office in Jalalabad city nor does it support such attacks.”

It is not common to see the Taliban deny responsibility for an attack in this way, which raises additional questions. Not the least of those questions is who, if not the Taliban, was behind last week's attack and why they have not claimed responsibility.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Reports Warn of Afghanistan Collapse in 2014

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Red Cross and a think tank warned on Monday that steps need to be taken now to keep Afghanistan from sliding "toward state collapse" after the U.S. and its NATO allies withdraw their forces in 2014.

According to a report by the International Crisis Group, Afghanistan could easily erupt into a civil war, especially if the national army and police are unprepared for violence.

Candace Rondeaux with the International Crisis Group, a think tank, said that the problem is that the country remains "plagued by factionalism and corruption."

In a report called "The Long Hard Road to the 2014 Transition," the International Crisis Group says that Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration has to begin ensuring that the election two years from now is as free from fraud as possible, also arguing that "high levels of violence across the country before and on the day of the polls are likely to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands more would-be voters."

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a statement that it is becoming more difficult for ordinary Afghans to receive health care because of the rise of local armed groups that have proliferated in regions throughout the country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sec. Clinton, Arab Leaders Discuss Arming Syrian Rebels

State Department photo(TUNIS, Tunisia) -- During a bilateral "Friends of Syria" meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Tunisia, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal said arming the Syrian opposition was “an excellent idea."

 Al Faisal reasoned that humanitarian aid alone will do nothing to stop "the killing machine... Because they have to protect themselves," he said.
Clinton used strong language without going that far, while continuing the U.S. position that pressure on Assad will bring him to a stop.

"The Assad regime's actions … are a grave violation of universal human rights … the  violence must end and a democratic transition begin."  Clinton insisted that “concrete steps” have been taken to pressure Assad, increase his isolation, help the humanitarian relief and begin the democratic transition.

“The people who bear the responsibility for this humanitarian catastrophe are the Assad regime and its security forces,” Clinton said, adding that they have “ignored every warning, broken every promise.”

Secretary Clinton also said that any transition that takes place in Syria must include the departure of President Assad.

“I am convinced that Assad’s days are numbered. I just regret deeply that there will be more killing before he goes,” she said.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al Thani suggested security be provided for the Syrians.

"There is a need to create an Arab force and open humanitarian corridors to provide security to the Syrian people," he said.

Meanwhile in Homs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent international humanitarian organizations started an evacuation Friday of women and children in the city.  Assad's security forces have bombarded Homs for three straight weeks, leading to the death of hundreds of civilians in the city.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Red Cross Wants Ceasefire in Syria to Deliver Aid

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross has stepped into the crossfire between the Syrian government and opposition forces to demand that the two sides institute an immediate ceasefire.

The plea came as President Bashar al-Assad appeared poised to launch an all-out assault on the city of Homs ahead of a planned referendum on a new constitution.  Syria's third largest city has suffered the most fatalities since the crackdown on pro-democracy dissidents began 11 months ago.

Red Cross spokeswoman Carla Haddad insisted that her group's call for the two sides to temporarily stop fighting was not an attempt to negotiate a conflict-ending deal.  Instead, the Red Cross is more concerned with bringing assistance to people in areas of Syria that have been hardest hit by the low-grade civil war.

While the Red Cross awaits an answer, al-Assad seems ready to crush the opposition in Homs, the biggest thorn in his side as he tries to retain his 11-year hold on power.

Condemnation by the Arab League and most of the international community has not deterred the fighting in Syria, which has only increased in recent weeks.

As for the referendum al-Assad plans to roll out next Sunday, most believe it will be chock full of empty rhetoric and hollow promises as previous proposals.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yemeni Detainees at Guantanamo Receive Video Call Service

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba) -- Dozens of Yemeni men imprisoned at a U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can now video teleconference with their family members abroad.

The new service, sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross and launched earlier this month, provides many detainees the first face-to-face contact with relatives since their detention nearly a decade ago.

The teleconferences also come as the Obama administration considers an executive order to hold some detainees indefinitely.

"Because of the length of their detention at Guantanamo, we've been pushing for this service," said ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno.  "And we have the full support of the [U.S.] authorities."

Previously, the men could communicate only through sending paper messages or occasional telephone calls transmitted through the Red Cross.

The video calls can last up to an hour and could occur once every three months, whenever the ICRC visits the facility.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Yemeni Gitmo Detainees Video Chat with Families

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(YEMEN) – Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay are being connected to their families through live videoconferencing.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has allowed for 90 detainees to connect with their families via video for up to an hour. Previously, only phone calls or brief messages had been available to the detainees.

For many, the video chats - the first of which were made around 10 days ago - are the first glimpse of their families they’ve had since 2001 or 2002.

The ICRC has been operating in Yemen since 1962.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


ICRC in Afghanistan: Worst Conditions in 30 Years

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- One day before the White House releases its Af-Pak strategy review, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kabul on Wednesday held an extremely rare and downbeat press conference to declare that conditions in the country -- in terms of their ability to do their work -- hadn’t been this bad in 30 years, when the organization first arrived there.
"The proliferation of armed groups threatens the ability of humanitarian organizations to access those in need. Access for the ICRC has over the last 30 years never been as poor," said Reto Stocker, the country director. "The sheer fact the ICRC has organized a press an expression of us being extremely concerned of yet another year of fighting with dramatic consequences for an ever-growing number of people in, by now, almost the entire country.”
The ICRC doesn’t blame only the Taliban. It blames a collection of insurgent and criminal groups, which exploit huge pockets where there is no governance and no U.S. troops. And it predicts that the violence will be worse than ever in the spring -- a fact the U.S. military agrees with.
"In a growing number of areas in the country, we are entering a new, rather murky phase in the conflict in which the proliferation of armed groups threatens the ability of humanitarian organizations to reach the people who need their help," Stocker said. "One armed group may demand food and shelter in the evening, then, the next morning, another may demand to know why its enemy was given sanctuary."
ICRC says, in contrast to the military’s numbers, civilian casualties are increasing, especially where the surge is focused -- Kandahar. The ICRC runs the largest hospital in Kandahar City.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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