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War in Afghanistan Worsening for Civilians: ICRC

Outgoing outgoing head of the ICRC's delegation in Afghanistan describes humanitarian crisis

- Common Dreams staff

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan has brought a humanitarian crisis for civilians and diminished hopes for the future, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated on Monday.

An Afghan man inspects the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Khost province October 1, 2012. (Reuters/ Anwarullah) Reto Stocker, the outgoing outgoing head of the ICRC's delegation in Afghanistan, made the statements in Kabul a day after the war began its 12th year, describing a worsening situation for civilians, and said he is "filled with concern" upon his departure.

"Since I arrived here in 2005, local armed groups have proliferated, civilians have been caught between not just one but multiple front lines, and it has become increasingly difficult for ordinary Afghans to obtain health care," said Stocker.

Stocker said civilians' access to health care has been repeatedly limited by the war.

"There have to be some things that are off limits, and interfering with health care is one of them. Attacks on health-care staff, vehicles and facilities cannot be considered part of the ordinary conduct of war. Health care must remain available to everyone who needs it. It must be provided impartially, on the basis of medical considerations only."

Stocker describes a grim future for Afghan civilians, as they face a plethora of disaster. "People are not just suffering the effects of the armed conflict. Hardship arising from the economic situation, or from severe weather or natural disaster, has become more widespread, and hope for the future has been steadily declining."

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