KANDAHAR CITY - The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday said there has been a remarkable decline in civilian casualties in southern Afghanistan, showing the security situation had improved in remote parts of the zone.
The ICRC representative, Daniel Cavoli, who met with Governor Toryalai Weesa, at the governor's house exchanged views on different issues with him, Zalmai Ayubi, the governor's spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
At the meeting, the ICRC representative said casualties among civilians had recently minimised in the country's south.
However, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Saturday released its report on civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict, saying the casualties rose for the fifth year in a row. As many as 3,021 Afghan civilians were killed in 2011, compared with 2,790 in 2010 and 2,412 in 2009.
The report said most of the deaths were caused by insurgents, saying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were used more widely and suicide attacks had become deadlier.
"The ICRC is working in close partnership with the Mirwais Civil Hospital, where most of the war victims are brought in southern zone," Ayubi quoted Kaoli as saying.
Kaoli said the decreased number of war-affected people visiting the hospital indicated the security situation in remote areas had improved. "Previously many war victims would arrive at the hospital from different provinces and districts on a daily basis, but nowadays there has been a remarkable decline," he added.
Julien Lerisson, the ICRC deputy head sub-delegation in the south, said a contract for the construction of a new annex building for an Outdoor Patient Department (OPD) in the Mirwais Hospital had been awarded to an Afghan construction company. He said the ODP would have modern facilities.
The hospital faced the problem of space shortage, he said, adding not only Kandahar residents, but people from other provinces visited the hospital, which lacked the capacity to deal with such a great number of patients.
The ICRC planned to launch an anti-polio drive in some districts of the province in cooperation with the government, the committee's representative told the governor.
Weesa said the decline in civilian casualties was a result of security operations codenamed "Hope" and "Cooperation" conducted two year ago in different districts.
He said the influence of militants had been reduced and their sanctuaries in most of the districts eliminated during the operations.
The decline in civilian casualties was a result of improved security and good governance in the government-controlled areas and was a good omen for officials and local residents, Weesa said.
He maintained the security organs were strengthened and the number of police and Afghan National Army (ANA) increased to cover most of the remote areas in the south.