Winning hearts and minds in the conflict zones of Afghanistan


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Florian Westphal - Red Cross

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  • Kabul. Women and children attending a course on mine awareness. 2006. ICRC provides local mine safety training classes in schools, clinics and mosques throughout Afghanistan. The training courses are provided for men, women and children alike so that Afghans have a clear knowledge of what to avoid in the field.
  • Mirwais hospital in Kandahar, 2010
  • Kabul, ICRC orthopaedic centre. Fahrad, 14 years old, who contracted poliomyelitis as a child, is receiving assistance. 2010
  • Kabul. Conference on Islam and international humanitarian law in 2006
  • Kabul, Military Training Centre. Afghan soldiers during a dissemination session. Explaining IHL and the ICRC Create a conducive environment to our activities Most important element is that people are convinced by our 'product': as is the case for many other countries, too many people suffering because of war have encountered unmet promises of aid that never materialized or didn't address their needs. ICRC identity: we need to be able to explain how we work i.e. NIHA and how we are distinct from others who may be seen as having taken sides in a conflict e.g. UN. I am not criticising that per se but it does imply a fundamentally different approach. Part of this is an explanation of the emblem, where it comes from and how it relates to religion – a very sensitive subject as the most recent violent protests over the Koran-burning illustrated. Linked to that is the issue of our security: to be transparent about our operations and way of acting is one of our most important guarantees. Avoid giving people the pretext of saying "But we didn't know you were coming here". There are situations where we will decide, for security reasons, to be very low-key but this can be dangerous: the less people know about us and see of us the more inclined they may be to believe that we have a hidden agenda. BUT in view of enormous expectations it can be just as important to explain what one can't and won't do: what are perceived as broken promises can have a severe negative effect on reputation
  • James Nachtwey photographed detainees held by the Afghan authorities like the men in this photo. 2009
  • Kandahar, ICRC office. Relatives talking to a detainee in Guantanamo, where he has been held for nine years, via video telephone conference. 2009
  • Ghor province, Tulak district. Relief distribution to people affected by floods; 2010
  • Kabul, ICRC orthopaedic centre. A boy practising walking with his orthoses.
  • A young patient in Mirwais hospital, Kandahar, 2010
  • Winning hearts and minds in the conflict zones of Afghanistan

    1. 1. Communicating in Afghanistan
    2. 2. A Permanent Crisis
    3. 3. ICRC <ul><li>1978: First Action in Afghanistan </li></ul><ul><li>1986: Permanent Delegation in Kabul </li></ul><ul><li>Presence in 5 Regions, 15 offices </li></ul><ul><li>150+ expatriates; 1700 nationals </li></ul><ul><li>Medical, Relief, Water, Protection activities </li></ul>
    4. 4. What we do & how we do it
    5. 5. Listening & Understanding
    6. 6. Acceptance & Security
    7. 7. Promoting the Law
    8. 8. Providing 'services'
    9. 9. Building a Reputation
    10. 10. A Voice for the Voiceless
    11. 11. Lessons Learnt