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ICRC urges respect for Afghan civilians

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross has called on Afghanistan's military, foreign troops and Taliban insurgents to spare civilians during combat.

This content was published on April 14, 2008 - 11:17

Jakob Kellenberger, who is president of the Swiss-run organisation, also said suspected Taliban members held by the United States military in Bagram were concerned about their fate but he noted progress in their living conditions.

He pressed the Afghan government as well for judicial guarantees and better treatment of inmates at Pul-I-Charki jail, east of the capital, Khabul.

Ending a weeklong visit, Kellenberger said his discussions with all sides mainly involved protection of Afghan civilians and international humanitarian law.

"I was very much insisting... on the protection of civilians and said 'there must be ... a distinction between civilians and those who are participating directly in combat'," he told a news conference at ICRC headquarters in Kabul.

Kellenberger said the Geneva-based ICRC was documenting possible violations of humanitarian law in the Afghan conflict and had made certain recommendations. However, he declined to make them public because of the organisation's mandate.

He said he had urged the Taliban to guarantee the security of aid workers in areas where the militants were active and that the Taliban's reply had been positive.

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