Small Wars Journal

Afghanistan's Taliban Bans ICRC, WHO Relief Work

Afghanistan's Taliban Bans ICRC, WHO Relief Work


Ayaz Gul – Voice of America


The Taliban says it has temporarily stopped the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) from carrying out relief work in the areas they control in Afghanistan and revoked security guarantees for their staff.


The Islamist insurgent group alleged in a statement Thursday that it has found WHO staff involved in "some suspicious activities" during vaccination campaigns, and that the ICRC failed to practically implement pledges given to the Taliban. The statement did not elaborate.


“Until further orders, operations of the two organizations have been halted in areas controlled by the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban], and Mujahideen will not be a responsible for the protection for the heads of these organizations,” the Taliban said.


There was no immediate reaction from the WHO and ICRC or the Afghan government to the Taliban's warning.


The insurgent move comes as an estimated 10 million people in Afghanistan, more than a quarter of its population, are facing "severe acute" food insecurity and are in need of urgent "life-saving" humanitarian assistance in the wake of continued hostilities, three years of drought and recent floods.


The Taliban had temporarily withdrawn safety guarantees for the ICRC last August, accusing the international group of failing to meet its mission obligations to monitor detention conditions in Afghan jails and provide medical aid to insurgent prisoners.


The security assurances were reinstated two months later following negotiations between the ICRC and the Taliban in Qatar, where the insurgent group informally operates its political office.




The WHO's vaccination campaigns, particularly those against polio virus, are considered critical because Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where endemic polio virus continues to cripple children.


Insurgent attacks and counter offensives by Afghan security forces have intensified in recent months across Afghanistan, killing hundreds of combatants on both sides, inflicting civilian casualties and displacing tens of thousands of families.The Taliban controls or contests more than half of the 407 Afghan districts.


Bill C.

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 10:53am

Context, it would seem, is everything.  

In our case -- at least until President Trump -- and in the case of the Soviets/the communists also in Afghanistan before us -- the context was: 

Great power efforts to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along our/their, usual and unique, political, economic, social and value lines. 

With respect to this such context -- and in consideration of the view of the Afghan resistance (to great power efforts to transform their state and societies more along alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines) -- note the following as to how they (the Afghan resistance) were, IN THIS CONTEXT, appropriately wary of the ICRC and its efforts:   


On asking an anti-government tribal leader – whom he first met in the mountains of Afghanistan in 1987 – whether the ICRC could travel safely in the area under his control, a senior ICRC delegate received the following reply:

"Today, like 20 years ago, a government and its international allies are trying to impose a model of society, with all the modernization, reconstruction, development and Western values that go with it. Today, like 20 years ago, I disagree and we all shed blood. Today, like 20 years ago, you come here to try and make sure prisoners are well treated, wounded taken care of, our families not bombed, or starved, or humiliated. We respect that. Now, be warned: just as we do not expect you to support our religious, social, political views and actions, so we expect you not to support – in any way – our enemies. Know when so-called humanitarian action becomes a sword, or a poison – and stop there."


(See page 188 of the International Committee of the Red Cross Report entitled: "The International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan: Reasserting the Neutrality of Humanitarian Action."