Red Cross trained Taliban militants first aid techniques

Red Cross has come under criticism in Afghanistan after it accepted that it has been training scores of Taliban militants.

Updated: May 26, 2010, 20:51 PM IST

London: Red Cross has come under severe
criticism in Afghanistan after it accepted that it has been
training scores of Taliban militants, battling NATO and Afghan
forces, the basic techniques of first aid.

More than 70 members of the "armed opposition"
received training in April, the Red Cross said a move likely
to anger the government of Hamid Karzai, which is losing large
numbers of police and soldiers in insurgent attacks.

"The Red Cross in Afghanistan has been teaching the
Taliban basic first aid and giving insurgents medical
equipment so that fighters wounded during battles with Nato
and Afghan government forces can be treated in the field," the
Guardian reported today.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
said it had introduced the classes because pitched battles,
landmines and roadblocks stopped people in the most volatile
areas from getting to hospital.

The Red Cross, which aims to remain neutral in the
conflict, has trained more than 100 Afghan soldiers and
policemen, as well as a network of taxi drivers who operate an
unofficial ambulance service in Helmand and Kandahar
provinces.

Today, a leading figure in Kandahar`s local
government, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the Taliban
did "not deserve to be treated like humans".

He said: "They are like animals, and they treat the
people they capture worse than animals. They kidnapped and
killed an American lady and then wouldn`t even return her
body. These people don`t deserve this help."

The Afghan ministries of defence and the interior said
they were unable to comment on what they described as a highly
controversial issue.

A Nato spokesman in Kabul said: "Nato has tremendous
respect for the humanitarian work carried out by the ICRC and
we recognise the need for this work to be carried out
impartially.

"Isaf [Nato] forces also provide treatment to any case
caught up in this conflict, including our opponents, in line
with our own obligation to respect the rules of armed
conflict."

One of the ICRC-trained drivers, who transports sick
and wounded people from Sangin district in Helmand, where some
of the most fierce fighting is taking place, to Mirwais
hospital in Kandahar city, told the ICRC that roadblocks and
insecurity had lengthened the journey to six or seven hours,
rather than the normal two.

The International Committee of the Red Cross runs
hospitals in Afghanistan, visits prisoners on both sides of
the conflict and co-operates on various projects with the
Afghan Red Crescent Society, a separate organisation, on
various projects.

PTI