AFGHANISTAN - Taliban Lifts Ban on Red Cross

Arno Froese

The Taliban are rescinding a 5-month-old ban that prevented staff with the International Committee of the Red Cross from working in Afghanistan, saying they also will renew security guarantees for the aid workers.

The new arrangement was worked out during talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, according to representatives from both the Taliban and the Red Cross.

“In a message sent via social media, a Taliban spokesman said they had all instructed all their fighters to ‘pave the way’ for the International Committee of the Red Cross to resume work,” NPR’s Diaa Hadid reports from Islamabad.

“The organization is one of the largest working in Afghanistan today—they’ve faced deadly attacks in the past—including in 2017, when eight Red Cross workers were killed,” Hadid says.

In April, the Taliban issued threats to both the Red Cross and the World Health Organization, saying their staffs would be targeted if they kept working in Afghanistan. Those threats came during vaccination campaigns.

Schaerer Juan-Pedro, who leads the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Afghanistan, says the two sides reestablished a “common understanding” about the Red Cross’ work in Afghanistan.

“We welcome the acknowledgment of our humanitarian principles and renewal of security guarantees,” Juan-Pedro said via Twitter.

The Red Cross, which says it has had a presence in Afghanistan since 1979, was criticized in 2010 for teaching Taliban fighters the basics of first aid and giving them medical kits. But the international aid group had scaled back its activities in northern Afghanistan after its aid workers died in the 2017 attack, which targeted an orthopedic center.

-www.npr.org, 16 September 2019

Arno's commentary

This country of about 35 million people is listed as 99.7% Muslim. Life expectancy stands at only 52.1 years, and literacy is listed at 38.2% for the total population.

Afghanistan’s history is replete with wars. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979, and departed in February of 1989, with the loss of 15,000 Soviet soldiers. Wikipedia reports that the “United States Invasion of Afghanistan” occurred on 7 October 2001. The US suffered heavy casualties, as 2,400 soldiers died and over 20,000 were wounded. The belligerent countries were listed as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Northern Alliance, with the support of Russia, India, Turkey, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.

Yet the Afghans, under the leadership of the Taliban, fiercely defended their country. Facts and precise figures of casualties among the Afghan people vary. While soldiers are praised, the ones who pay the greatest price are the women, the children, and the aged. And that is where the International Red Cross comes in. Their sole goal is to support, heal, and restore those who are wounded.

What is Afghanistan’s future? The answer is the same as all nations on planet earth; the prophet Micah proclaims: “And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3). That marks the end of global military power. Why? Because righteous judgment will go forth from the Lord.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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