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Update No. 97/02 on ICRC activities in Rwanda

19-02-1997 Operational Update

During the extended visit to Rwanda by the ICRC's Delegate General for Africa in late January/early February, the delegation's objectives were reviewed, in the light of the volatile security situation.

Unfortunately, more security incidents have taken place since, notably close to Kigali, between Gitarama and Kibuye, and in the Cyangugu area. Even though a number of additional security measures have been taken, these incidents seriously restrict humanitarian activities in Rwanda.

In light of the general uncertainty about future developments in Rwanda, both in the short and medium term, the delegation has decided to extend, for a further two to three weeks, its policy of carrying out limited activities only.

Under this approach, expatriate staff will remain at the current level of 50 people, the majority of whom will be based in Kigali.  The subdelegations in Cyangugu, Butare, Kibuye, Gitarama and Kibungo will have small teams of permanent expatriate staff, while there will be no overnight stays in the Gikongoro and Byumba offices. For the time being, delegates are travelling to Gisenyi by air only and are not carrying out any activities in Ruhengeri.

This presence allows the delegation to maintain contacts with its interlocutors and to carry out its essential activities throughout most of the country over the coming weeks.

- Delegates will continue to visit prisons and communal lock-ups in main towns and along tarred roads, and provide assistance such as food, water and medicines for the prison population.

- Other relief assistance will continue via the National Soc iety and other local structures.

- Family reunions with unaccompanied children will continue, insofar as families will be requested to visit delegation offices. There will be no direct transport of children to their places of origin for the time being.

- Water and sanitation activities are limited to emergency repairs of distribution networks. Project delegations are being closed and ongoing programmes will be followed up as far as security conditions allow.

- Likewise, the delegation wants to carry on working at Kibuye hospital, one of the key elements of ICRC health activities in Rwanda.

The ICRC hopes to be able to carry out its restricted activities on a sound basis and  to resume full activity in the near future.