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ICRC has lingering Afghan concerns

April 18, 2013 at 11:02 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan, April 18 (UPI) -- Security threats in Afghanistan are leaving vulnerable civilian communities cut off from humanitarian assistance, the Red Cross said.

Two members of the International Committee of the Red Cross were killed along with two others in an attack this week in northern Afghanistan. Kabul delegate for the ICRC Gherardo Pontrandolfi said the incident wasn't only a tragedy for aid workers but also for those in need of humanitarian assistance.

"Units like these might find it even more difficult to work in certain parts of the country," he said in a statement. "Fighting, roadblocks, roadside bombs and a general lack of security prevent medics and humanitarian aid from reaching the sick and wounded, just when they need it most."

International forces in Afghanistan are making preparations to end combat operations by 2014. A House of Commons select committee on British operations in Afghanistan said there were significant gaps in what Afghan forces have and what they need in terms of ensuring national security after 2014.

A report this week from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said insecurity and a general lack of agricultural assistance was responsible for substantial increases of opium cultivation in the country.

"As international attention turns to other crises, there is a risk of the gap widening between people's needs and the ability of Afghan and international agencies to meet those needs," Pontrandolfi said.

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