Red Cross defends first aid training for Taliban

Afp/express May 26, 2010

KABUL: The International Red Cross has said that it is providing first aid training for Taliban militants in Afghanistan as a part of their mandate.

On Wednesday, spokesman of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Christian Cardon, reacted to strong criticism on the course and said that basic medical training is a core part of its work.

In a statement issued in Kabul on Tuesday, the ICRC said it "provided basic first aid training and first aid kits to arms carriers and to civilians in conflict areas."

"In April, it reached over 100 Afghan security forces personnel, over 70  members of the armed opposition, taxi drivers involved in the transport of  wounded people, first aiders and its own staff," added the statement.

The move was criticised by Afghan officials, with an unnamed leading figure in Kandahar's local government telling British newspaper The Guardian that the Taliban "don't deserve this help."

But Cardon noted that the ICRC has always "come to the aid of combatants on battlefields" since its creation 150 years ago.

He added that it is by "the principle of reciprocity" that the ICRC trains both parties in a conflict.

For transparency reasons, both parties are also informed that they are each benefitting from the same training, said Cardon.

Such training usually lasts three days and includes a chapter on international humanitarian law.