Sudan bulletin No. 5 - 30 July 2004
30-07-2004 Operational Update
Latest report on ICRC activities in the field
©ICRC / ref. sd-e-00022
Pockets of fighting and attacks persist throughout the three provinces of Darfur, giving rise to continued displacement of civilians and an increasingly complex landscape as regards the different groups involved. Despite the easing of travel restrictions, access to the affected population becomes difficult in such an environment. Through maintaining contacts with all parties and transparency about its activities, the ICRC seeks to overcome any potential problems of access. As an additional concern, the delivery of aid to remote villages is becoming even more difficult because of the heavy rains and bad road conditions.
Lack of food, safe drinking water and basic health care are major problems in the villages and displaced communities. Some planting of crops is going on in fields close to settled areas. People are eating wild food – fruit seeds, grass seed, small herbs, traditionally used as supplements, but now the only source of food available - as well as grasshoppers, used when all other sources fail.
Over the past week the ICRC dispatched a large relief convoy to Darfur from Khartoum, distributed the first food aid to isolated villages in Western Dafur and Northern Darfur, and opened a basic health care centre in Abhsok camp for displaced persons. Surgical and medical activities in Kutum and Zalingei hospitals resumed following ICRC support. The ICRC is accessing different areas not visited until now by any humanitarian organization. The support of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) through its volunteers continues to be essential to the ICRC's activities.
Assessments and needs
Assessment trips are being carried out increasingly further afield from ICRC bases in the three Darfur provinces to assess and document protection problems encountered by the population, evaluate food, water and health care needs, and prepare the appropriate response. The regions recently visited are: Jebel Marra in Northern Darfur; Jebel Mun in Western Darfur, and Gereida and Al Daien in Southern Darfur.
A three-day trip was carried out to the town of Seleya and surrounding communities in the Jebel Mun area, a six-hour drive (65 km) north-east of Al Geneina. This area was cut off for many months and therefore inaccessible to any humanitarian organization . The areas around Jebel Mun will be the first priority for the distribution of food and other supplies north of Al Geneina in the coming weeks. The ICRC is also preparing to set up a basic health care centre and to upgrade the water supply system in Seleya village.
An ICRC-SRCS team spent seven days in the region of Gereida, a town of 50,000 inhabitants, some 100 km south of Nyala along a sand and dirt road. Over the past two weeks around 12,000 displaced persons have fled to Gereida from surrounding villages. They have gathered in schools and open fields around the town and have no external assistance whatsoever. Women head many of the newly-displaced families. Anyone with means travels on to Nyala, swelling the already overcrowded camps there.
The ICRC will shortly distribute food and other aid to the displaced in El Gereida and reactivate the run-down town health dispensary, which has practically no supplies. It is hoped that, by assisting IDPs close to their place of origin, the burden on the host population can be reduced, and pressure taken off overcrowded Kalma and other camps in the Nyala area.
The ICRC is continuously reminding all parties to the conflict of their existin g obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) towards the civilian population. In its discussions with the authorities at all levels, the ICRC has stressed that any return of displaced persons to their homes or relocation to other sites must take place on a fully voluntary basis. It is not to be forced or induced by promises of humanitarian assistance. The safety of displaced persons and returnees must be guaranteed
Assistance (ecosec / wathab / health)
From 20-24 July, 120 tonnes of food (sorghum, beans, vegetable oil and salt) were distributed to 20,000 vulnerable residents in and around nine different villages in the Jebel Si area of Northern Darfur. This was the first large-scale ICRC food distribution carried out in the region .
Two ICRC medical and surgical teams continued to support and train their Sudanese counterparts in Kutum and Zalingei hospitals. Installation of the two hospital modules, delivered the previous week by the Danish and Norwegian Red Cross Societies, was completed. On 22 July a first operation was carried out in Zalingei hospital after many weeks of functioning at half capacity.
An ICRC health centre was set up in Abshok camp, with the support of the SRCS and German Red Cross, in order to serve the growing camp population (now around 50,000 people).
The ICRC is organizing the layout of a new camp in Zalingei, to enable the resettlement of some 20,000 displaced persons currently living in overcrowded conditions in the town. Two 45,000-litre water tanks were installed.
On 21 July, the I CRC dispatched a convoy of 27 trucks and light vehicles, carrying over 100 tonnes of relief items for displaced people in Nyala, El Fasher, Zalingei and Al Geneina (Darfur), and other supplies, to consolidate its operational set-up there.
Restoring family links and tracing
The ICRC has so far registered 83 separated children in Darfur (50 in Northern Darfur, 2 in Western Darfur and 31 in Southern Darfur).
Cooperation within the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement
Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers took part in the food distribution in Jebel Si and in the assessment trips to Jebel Marra, Jebel Mun and Gereida. The National Society provided vital support in the delivery of the hospital modules to Kutum and Zalingei hospitals.
To bolster SRCS activities in the field, the ICRC provided it with six vehicles, which joined the convoy heading for Darfur. The Spanish Red Cross also took part in the convoy.
The ICRC co-organized a visit by the secretary-general of the Arab Red Cross/Red Crescent Secretariat to the SRCS in Darfur.
The living conditions in camps spontaneously settled in eastern Chad continue to deteriorate. Refugees keep flooding into the newly established camp of Oure Cassoni where some estimated 15 000 people have arrived. The same is happening in Amna Bak (at the Wadi Fira, north of Abéché). The violent incidents of the previous weeks (at Farshana and Bredjing refugee camps) provoked the temporary suspension of the installation of Tredjine camp. Bredjing has some 33,000 refugees dependent on a municipality of 36,000 habitants that is absolutely overwhelmed.
The ICRC has reached an agreement with the Red Cross of Chad (RCC) to implement tracing programmes in the different refugee camps to enable people to relocate their relatives and communicate with them.
The ICRC continues with the recruitment of Chadian personnel in this expanding phase.
The ICRC is currently visiting some 50 detainees in different locations in eastern Chad within the framework of a confidential dialogue with the local authorities.
The ICRC will install tracing antennas in 9 camps between 3 August and 17 September. Volunteers from the RCC have already been trained to support the activities.
Water and habitat
The localities of Adré, Tiné and Bahaï are being assessed to improve access to clean water for the local population and the refugees.
The ICRC continues to promote international humanitarian law and the principles of the Movement among the refugees, the local authorities and other humanitarian actors. The ICRC was also invited by the local authorities and the UNHCR to train local police, deployed in refugee camps, in IHL.
For further information please contact:
Carlo Piccinini, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 9 121 377 64
for Chad: Yves Heller, ICRC Yaoundé , tel. ++237 222 58 59
Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 22 71