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Red Cross makes breakthrough Afghan visit

Representatives of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have met prisoners held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for the first time.

The ICRC said in a statement on Tuesday that it had visited three members of the Afghan security forces in the northwestern province of Badghis.

The organisation said it would not release any details about the detainees’ condition. It could not say whether they were policemen or soldiers, nor when they were captured.

However, it regarded the visit as an important breakthrough and hoped there would be more visits. It said it also hoped to get access to prisoners held by other armed factions.

Information gathered by the ICRC is always strictly confidential and disclosed only to the parties involved.

The Geneva Conventions – international treaties which regulate the conduct of war - require all sides to allow the ICRC access to prisoners.

A spokesman in Geneva said the ICRC had been engaging in discussion with the Taliban for years “because they are simply party to the conflict".

The ICRC has access to 136 detention facilities in Afghanistan run by Western troops and the Afghan authorities.

The organisation, which has been present in Afghanistan since 1979, has registered more than 16,000 detainees since the current war began in late 2001.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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