May 26th, 2010
11:51 AM ET

Red Cross defends helping Taliban treat casualties

The International Committee of the Red Cross is defending its practice of providing medical training and basic medical supplies to the Taliban in Afghanistan – saying it is in line with the ICRC’s mandate not to discriminate between different sides in a conflict.

In the latest situation report issued Tuesday the Red Cross disclosed that in April its workers “reached over 100 Afghan security personnel, over 70 members of the armed opposition, taxi drivers involved in the transport of wounded people, first-aiders and its own staff.”

That prompted plenty of quizzical and some critical comments in the international media and among bloggers – and some grumbling among Afghan officials. But an ICRC spokesman in Geneva said the practice is consistent with its obligation of neutrality and its mandate to provide assistance to all sides in conflict.The ICRC says it provides a three-day course that includes lessons in international humanitarian law, practical work with bandages and other basic medical techniques. It says the course is also a chance to remind all sides about respect for civilians and proper treatment of detainees.

Some critics have drawn a distinction between providing medical care to the wounded and training insurgents to do so. But the ICRC says it has provided similar training in Darfur, Sudan and to Hamas members in Gaza. ICRC spokesman Christian Cardon says it has been providing such training in Afghanistan for about four years to the Taliban as well as to Afghan police and civilian first-aiders. He added that the ICRC was not training the Taliban in surgical skills; the focus was on stabilizing those injured.

The ICRC says that roadblocks, fighting and mines have made access to hospitals very difficult – especially in provinces like Helmand and Kandahar in the south of Afghanistan.

It quotes one taxi-driver who regularly ferries people from one part of Helmand to hospital in Kandahar as saying that the insecurity “is endangering the lives of the sick and injured, because it often takes us six or seven hours to get people to hospital instead of two.”

The International Security Assistance Force says it has no issues with Red Cross workers training insurgents in medical care.

“We recognize the need for their work to be executed impartially – and it's precisely for this reason that they are able to gain the access that they do," Lt. Col. Joseph T Breasseale told CNN. "One of the litany of things that separates the international coalition from the Taliban is that we have frequently provided first aid to injured Taliban fighters and we will continue to do so.”

The ICRC says the three-day first-aid courses are a small part of its program in Afghanistan. In April it conducted a war surgery workshop for dozens of doctors, and supported the regional hospital in Kandahar in performing almost 1,000 operations. The ICRC says it has 1,500 national and 140 international staff in Afghanistan.

More Security Briefs at CNN's This Just In blog

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Filed under: Taliban
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Leprakawn

    I wonder if the SEALS considered taking the body of ObL to the RC to try and help him...

    May 7, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Chuckster

    I am done with the Red Cross, I not giving blood or squat to you TRAITORS. How can you help a known TERRORIST ORGANIZATION that has killed thousands of people????? FU Red Cross.

    June 7, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AL

    thank you blood givers you saved the lives of the terrorists

    June 1, 2010 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. TMB

    If the red cross wants any more American blood they can just go to their friendly taliban. I'm sure the taliban will be happy to supply their red cross buddies with American blood.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. AB

    I see a lot of posts here condemning the International Red Cross, from a lot of people that clearly do not understand the mission of the organization. It is not their job to provide aid to Americans. It is their job to provide aid to any who need it.

    I support our troops 100% and am all for doing what we need to do to win this war, but keep the following in mind. If we get to a point where we value human life as little as the Taliban does, then we are no better than they are. We are in the right because we DO value human life, and even treat wounded enemy combatants after they are no longer a threat. Yes, I understand that they do not afford prisoners they take the same care, but I will always be against our turning into the very thing our troops are over there fighting.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuckster

      And that includes helping a known terrorist group to save their lives so they can kill more Americans. FU!!!

      June 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ryan

    im currently deployed to iraq. and im not opposed to the red cross training people in first aid. though im sure they also have provided the same aid to the sunni and shia insurgency in iraq. its their job to provide aid to everyone no matter their uniform or lack there of. it may seem they r providing assitanceto to the enemy but remember the red cross doesnt answer to any nation state. besides U.S forces must provide medical aid to wounded enemy personel after they pose no more threat.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mt

    The Red Cross should not be teaching murderers how to save lives..

    May 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. uhm2bad

    Wow ...u dont have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out, I love animals but if a rapid animal attacks somone should we really keep it around? Shame on you IRC. Yeah, its sad, most of these people are uneducated and poor..giv'em books and food, dont fix'em up so they can go backout and shoot somone.

    May 30, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Seriously? I mean, seriously?

      June 1, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. dais

    are you not mudering the Afgans innocently.when you go to their country to kill them.

    May 30, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Phil

    It is one thing to train a bunch a people and later find out that some were terrorists, it is quite another to seek out terrorists to train. I gave blood yesterday, it was deliberately NOT to the red-cross. I will not give blood, or any other form of donation, to an organisation that deliberately aides organisations dedicated to murder, such as the Taliban.

    May 30, 2010 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  11. JudyB

    It's like giving Hitler first aid. The way they treat people and women! Damn you!

    May 30, 2010 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. NavajoInfidel

    who cares, you cant give first aid to wounds from a 30mm roiunds which tear bodies apart when the apache helio passes by, Lcpl of Marines

    May 29, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sherry

    The organization is called THE AMERICAN RED CROSS! To me that means help all the Americans in the time of battle in our wars. Never will I give the AMERICAN red cross money and no one else should. Why don't they call it the WORLD RED CROSS??? Maybe it is because its us Americans that donate. I wonder if the Taliban give donations to the AMERICAN RED CROSS. They better change their name. The shoot us, we shoot them and the ARC fixes the up so they can have a second chance to kill us?? I really don't understand this. It really makes me sick to my stomach. How dare them.

    May 29, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • NavajoInfidel

      just put a bullet in the head of a insurgent and you got the problem taken care of, i just donated blood to ARC last week, now i regret it since i saw this report on ARC helping the taliban

      May 29, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • AB

      There is an "American Red Cross", but it is not an American organization, hence the name "INTERNATIONAL Red Cross". They are neutral and do not take sides in any conflict, regardless of how evil we may see our enemy as being. They are neutral and impartial. Their mission is to help save lives.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
      • Daniel-2

        Well put,AB.Let's just ignore these right-wing fools who only vomit their hatred through and through.

        May 31, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sillysue

    I will never contribute to IRC again. And on another note that his bothering me...why can't we come up with something that will detect roadside bombs before our guys run over them. It seems to be the number one cause of death. Why don't we just get this war over with and stop killing our own children.....more than four thousand have died over 9/11. Who cares about the evil Taliban, torturers of women and children....wack em' all. Ok, i am emotional, but been looking at all the faces of the dead this morning and it is driving me crazy.

    May 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • turb

      we cant detect them because we move to fast its like mine sweeping you need to move slow to pick them up. another difficulty is they make them out of so many diffrent materials..... its all in luck

      May 31, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. Leprakawn

    PS: CNN admins, isn't this going against our freedom of speech?

    May 29, 2010 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Lennybaby

      It seems that way to me,also.But again the conservatives,or better said,the right-wing fanatics think that only their views deserve to be heard or read and evidently CNN agrees with that position.

      May 29, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
      • MAC

        You are incredibly stupid. I read American MSM only to keep up with the idiocy displayed by both sides of the spectrum and CNN has been catering to the left much like Newsweek, Time, etc for quite some time now.

        If CNN is catering to the "right wing" then why are your comments still here? Your redundant "the left wing is best and right wingers are thugs" commentary is still here, tiresome beyond all reason but not deleted. Please enlighten us as to how CNN is cateing to the right?

        When your IQ reaches 80 please let us know we'll throw you a party for such an achievement.

        CNN moderators are, much like other MSM blog moderators, fickle.

        June 2, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  16. Leprakawn

    Thankfully I copied two of the comments that had been removed. [Ken and Rick] I have them here if anyone wants to see them: http : // reaganator com » misc » quotes

    May 29, 2010 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
    • sillysue

      Let's seem them. It may be necessary for RC to be impartial. But it is still not beneficial till the war is over. Help citizens, not fighters.

      May 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Former Marine

    Right Wing eh? I love how everything is all Right Wing, and Left Wing, or some other kind of idea. Is it possible that they perhaps violated the terms of service, or something of the sort. I mean, it IS possible for people's posts to be deleted for some other reason than a conspiracy against keeping posts so very one sided. Friggin idiots...

    May 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sillysue

      probably deleted because people are saying they will not financially support IRC, or cursing. Just wanted to say thank you marine for all you have done, even for just being available for service.

      May 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Panama Guy

    Based off of this little gem of a news flash, I will never, ever again, contribute to the IRC!!!!

    May 28, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • AB

      That's certainly your right. You can also contact your local Red Cross and let them know that no matter the seriousness of the calamity, they are not to provide you with any care or assistance whatsoever. They would probably still help you anyway.

      They are NOT an American organization, and they don't take sides in conflicts. They are nuetral (their flag is even based on the Swiss flag with the colors inverted). Their mission is to help save lives.

      May 30, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Steve

    Why are all the comments being deleted?

    May 28, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      Last time I give blood or money to them...

      June 1, 2010 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
      • Tom

        You've likely never given money to the IRC. And you've definitely never given -blood- to them.

        The American Red Cross is an entirely separate organization which serves the American people. In times of great disaster such as tsunami or earthquake, our American generosity rightly extends to those whose lives have been unavoidable devastated. But none of the American Red Cross's resources has gone to the Taliban.

        And if any were to go there? Teaching others about how to resolve your conflicts in an orderly manner is a bad thing? You'd like to just kill them and not show them why we are better than them? Obviously you're not a Christian. As one, I'll be praying for your soul.

        June 1, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |