* Number of war-wounded in Kandahar hospital at record high
* Deteriorating security complicates aid delivery, ICRC says
* Increasing number of armed groups makes ICRC access harder
GENEVA, Oct 12 Security is deteriorating in
Afghanistan, creating more war casualties and making it harder
for aid agencies to reach people in need of food, water and
health care, the Red Cross said on Tuesday.
In the southern city of Kandahar, Mirwais regional hospital
registered nearly 1,000 war-wounded patients in August and
September, record highs and double the number in the same period
a year ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in
"This is just the tip of the iceberg, as those who suffer
other sorts of injuries or contract disease as an indirect
result of the conflict far outnumber weapon-wounded patients,"
said Reto Stocker, head of the ICRC delegation in Kabul.
Mothers often bring children suffering from treatable
diseases such as tetanus or tuberculosis to hospital too late as
they are afraid to travel or face roadblocks. Women die alone
giving birth and healthy men succumb to simple infections.
The ICRC has opened a new limb-fitting centre in Helmand
province, its seventh in the country, with a capacity to treat
more than 1,500 mine victims and other patients a year, it said.
Armed opposition groups across Afghanistan are also
increasingly fragmented or splintered, according to the neutral
humanitarian organisation, which said it was in dialogue with
"all parties to the conflict", including NATO-led international
"Our greatest challenge consists in maintaining access to
the areas hardest hit by the fighting, but the increase in the
number of armed groups is making this much harder for us,"
ICRC spokesman Christian Cardon, speaking to reporters in
Geneva, declined to be specific, but said: "There are foreign
elements but also Afghan nationals. They are all over the
country, but even more in the north."
It is important to maintain contact with these sub-groups,
some of them criminal in nature, as U.S. and other foreign
forces will eventually leave the country, he said.
The Taliban have gained strength in recent years and spread
to the previously peaceful north despite the presence of nearly
150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan. [ID:nSGE69AOY2]
The ICRC also regularly visits places of detention run by
Afghan authorities, international forces and U.S. forces, and
since last year also visits people detained by the "armed
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Tim Pearce)