AFGHANISTAN is sliding ever further into conflict with more than half of the country affected and several regions out of reach of humanitarian aid, a senior international Red Cross official warned today.
A Pentagon official said thousands of cars and trucks intended for use by the Afghan police had been sold instead.
"The conflict is clearly spreading and in certain areas also intensifying," said Reto Stocker, head of the Afghan delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
"Today, more than half of Afghanistan is mildly to very strongly affected by the conflict," he said.
Increasing numbers of people are being displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict between the Afghan government and international allies one one side, and the Islamist Taliban militia on the other.
Mr Stocker said that security was so bad that many parts of the country are "no-go areas" for aid workers.
"In Afghanistan, 28 million people are free. They have their own president, they have their own parliament. Improved a lot on the streets," Donald Rumsfeld says in the October issue of GQ magazine.
AP, Sep.10, 2007:
RAWA: He is probably right, Afghan women are free to commit self-immolation and beg in the streets, warlords are free to commit any crime, kidnap and rape women, loot people and do drug business. We have a parliament full of drug-lords and human rights violators, we have a president who is called by media as "mayor of Kabul". (According to UNIFEM, 65% of the 50,000 widows in Kabul see suicide as the only option to get rid of their miseries and desolation - Isn't it a real FREEDOM?!)
"There are lots of districts that have not seen for a prolonged period of time representatives of national or international NGOs", including the United Nations and the ICRC, he said.
The ICRC is continuing its work in visiting prisoners held by either the Afghan government or multinational forces, in particular the United States, which are holding "an important number of detainees" at the Bagram air force base, Mr Stocker said.
The Afghan government is estimated to be holding some 12,000 people prisoner, up from 5,000 two years ago, he said.
The ICRC played a key role in liberating several South Korean hostages last month who had been held by the Taliban, and Mr Stocker stressed that the organisation was viewed as impartial by all parties.
"The ICRC has gained the trust of all the parties to the conflict and the mandate is - despite the worsening security situation - respected by all parties to the conflict," he said.