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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 02:08 GMT 03:08 UK
Call to protect Afghan civilians
By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Geneva

Afghan family
Life for ordinary people is getting worse, the Red Cross said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says the situation in Afghanistan is growing worse with insecurity spreading and the conflict escalating.

In a statement it said civilians were suffering unbearably, and that over the past year there had been a steady deterioration of security.

It was critical not just of roadside bombs and suicide attacks, but also of aerial bombing by international forces.

The Red Cross called on all parties there to do more to protect civilians.

There are thousands of international troops in Afghanistan and billions of dollars in aid has been spent there.

But according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, life for ordinary people is getting worse, not better.

'Heavy price'

The organisation's director of operations, Pierre Kraehenbuhl says violence is now spreading right across the country:

"There's been an intensification of the fighting, it has spread to new parts of the country, so it's no longer confined to the south.

"The types of attacks include roadside bombs and suicide attacks, significant aerial bombardments and fighting on the ground," he said.

"It's really had a heavy price in terms of the population, both in terms of wounded and in terms of killed and people displaced so yes it's a very worrying situation."

The Red Cross says none of the parties to the conflict are doing enough to protect civilians. In the south and east of the country, thousands have fled their homes to escape the fighting and the Red Cross is stepping up its medical assistance to cope with the growing number of war wounded.

At the same time, more and more people are being detained by Afghan or international forces and Red Cross staff are making more prison visits.

It's not the picture the ICRC wanted to mark its 20th anniversary in Afghanistan - a humanitarian situation that is bleak and getting bleaker.

How the conflict is affecting ordinary Afghans

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