Red Cross pushing ethical limits in Afghanistan

It’s just in: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/05/27/afghanistan.red.cross.taliban/index.html

Apperently the International Red Cross (well, more likely its Red Crescent division) has been supplying aid to the Taliban for years. They say it is their duty under their policy of neutrality to aid everyone who needs help, including the Taliban. For this reason they have supplied first aid kits and medical training to Taliban members.

Now, I understand the Red Cross’s philosophy of neutrality but something doesn’t seem right about this and it’s not just the fact that I’m not exactly rooting for the Taliban (the sooner the scum gets eradicated the better), no, I’m seeing some real ethical dilemma’s here, regardless of whether or not you sympathize with the Taliban.

  • Firstly I’m thinking about resources and prioritizing: it’s a fact that there’s not enough medical equipment and aid to go around for everyone in Afghanistan, so why on Earth would the Red Cross spend any resources on the Taliban while there are plenty of civilians who need the aid just as bad? Am I wrong in assuming that civilians should always be the first priority for the Red Cross?
  • Secondly, isn’t aiding the Taliban pretty much the same as pulling the trigger or detonator every time Afghan civilians die in an attack? I mean, when you help treat a Taliban soldier you know you’re just releasing a man who will go on to kill civilians deliberately, so doesn’t that go against Hippocrates’s Oath?
  • And lastly, didn’t the Taliban chose to live like they do? They can always blend back into the population and stop fighting to seek medical attention, or surrender to NATO, no one is forcing them to stay in their caves when they are wounded. At least one expert agrees with me on this one:

Andrea Bianchi, a professor of international law at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, said the Red Cross wasn’t obliged to provide training and medical kits to the Taliban but appeared to have chosen to do so for practical reasons.

I’m sure opinions will range wildly on this topic, but I for one cannot condone what the Red Cross is doing here and at times like these I feel glad I never donated to them.

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