Militant group says fighters have been instructed to be ‘mindful’ of security for ICRC workers and equipment
The Afghan Taliban rescinded a months-long ban on the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) working in areas under their control on Sunday and restored security guarantees for those working for the organization.
The militants and the ICRC “consented to following the old agreement on top of new promises in humanitarian aid leading to the Islamic Emirate granting ICRC permission of resuming their activities,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.
Taliban fighters were instructed to “pave the way for ICRC activities and be mindful of security to this committee’s workers and equipment,” it added. “We welcome the acknowledgment of our humanitarian principles and renewal of security guarantees to enable us [to] work in #Afghanistan in favor of people affected by the armed conflict,” Schaerer Juan-Pedro, head of ICRC in Kabul said on Twitter.
In April the insurgents banned both the ICRC and World Health Organization (WHO) from carrying out relief activities in areas under their control and revoked security guarantees. The Taliban did not mention the WHO in the announcement, which it said came following talks with ICRC in Doha.
In August last year, the Taliban temporarily withdrew safety guarantees for the ICRC, accusing the international group of failing to meet its mission obligations to monitor detention conditions in Afghan jails and provide medical aid to Taliban prisoners. As fears of increased violence soar with presidential elections approaching later this month, Afghan troops and Taliban insurgents have been engaged in heavy exchanges across Afghanistan, with several militant-controlled districts in the far north falling to government forces.
The Taliban continue to strike Afghan installations at will after the militants issued their own vow to continue fighting after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled negotiations that aimed to pave the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan following 18 years of war.