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ICRC paints grim picture of Afghanistan

July 14, 2011 at 10:04 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 14 (UPI) -- Families living in conflict-prone areas in Afghanistan are forced to choose between fleeing their homes or joining the fight, a Red Cross delegate said.

International forces are preparing to leave the war in Afghanistan more than 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States sparked the initial invasion.

NATO-led forces are trumpeting the success of Afghan forces and Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he'd like his military to take over security operations by 2014.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said he was growing concerned about the choices ordinary Afghans are forced to make, however.

''Afghans living in villages where conflict is rife are having to take an impossible decision: choose sides or leave home,'' he said in a statement following a five-day visit to the country. "This is the reality of Afghanistan today."

He said the level of insecurity in the country was critical in all parts of the country. Humanitarian assistance is hampered, he added, by roadside bombs and frequent delays at checkpoints.

The French government reported this week that five of its soldiers and one Afghan civilian were killed during clashes with the Taliban following a visit to the country by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Karzai buried his half-brother during a Wednesday ceremony. He was assassinated the previous day in Kandahar.

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